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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Water's Edge (2003)
Water's Edge (2003)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // January 27, 2004
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 15, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Water's Edge stars Nathan Fillion (Firefly) and Chandra West as Robert and Molly Graves, a married couple still reeling from the loss of their daughter. Their bank account depleted and with little place else to turn, they take up residence in the hunting retreat Robert's late father once called home in the sleepy town of Reedsville. As Robert pecks away at a decrepit typewriter, churning out his next novel, he stumbles onto Molly nearly succumbing to her grief. Frustrated, Robert storms out of the house, shotgun in hand, and finds as nearly disturbing a sight. The town's sheriff has a pistol aimed squarely at a badly beaten, handcuffed young woman in the middle of nowhere. Though who this girl is or why she's so close to being murdered is unclear, Robert can't dismiss the situation, rescuing her at the cost of the sheriff's life. Before dumping the sheriff's car in the lake, Robert finds evidence of blackmail, including a satchel of cash and a set of lewd photographs. In a place this small, secrets can't stay hidden for long, and those of both Robert and some of the town's most powerful people soon come to light. Both sides of the blackmail manipulate Robert and Molly, explaining the embarrassing mess away with rational, heartfelt tales, and it's uncertain who can be trusted until the inevitable shootout in the film's final moments.

The Canadian lensed Water's Edge spends much of its time as a fairly low-key thriller. There are no scenery-chewing rants by a comically over-the-top villain, overly dramatic musical cues, or rain-drenched fist fights. The emphasis is placed on its characters, and it's to the film's benefit that it stars two such capable leads. Fillion and West both effectively convey the emotional agony of a couple that have suffered so much loss, united by grief more than the love that's hanging by such a tenuous thread. The cast as a whole is capable, particularly Daniel Baldwin as a smarmy politician. The only weak link in that respect is Emmanuelle Vaugier, who plays the rescued Rae Baines. Vaugier's performance as a manipulative seductress is unconvincing, and her delivery further conveys the sense that I'm watching a low-budget thriller on Showtime on a lazy Sunday afternoon as opposed to an independent feature film. I liked Water's Edge when it established an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty, an approach that was forgotten as its climax approached. It adheres closely to the traditional thriller formula, if in a more subdued fashion than many of the more ham-fisted entries in the genre, but the execution was decent enough that I wasn't particularly bothered by its familiarity. I was disappointed in the way it slowly devolved, culminating in a Walker: Texas Ranger-style shootout with Robert pitted against a handful of gunmen surrounding his small cabin, and one final jolt failed to get a reaction since it was so blatantly telegraphed in advance. The first two-thirds of the film are much stronger than the final half hour, taking an incrementally above-average thriller and knocking it down a letter grade or two.

Despite benefitting from a solid cast, some genuinely tense moments, and stunning scenery, Water's Edge does little to distinguish itself from the dozens upon dozens of other thrillers with similar premises littering video store shelves. Fans of the talent involved are encouraged to check it out on cable or as a rental, but I wouldn't recommend forking over the full list price for an unremarkable movie on a featureless DVD.

Video: Water's Edge is presented in anamorphic widescreen at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The image is sharp and detailed, free of any noticeable compression issues and just a handful of small flecks and the like. A sizeable chunk of the film was shot in low light, and shadow detail holds up nicely in these darker moments. No real complaints or concerns.

Audio: The Dolby Digital stereo audio (192Kbps) is decent as well. The movie's heavily driven by dialogue, which comes through cleanly and clearly. My receiver seemed to direct much of the film's audio to the center channel, with only a few scattered instances of particularly noticeable stereo separation, such as a police cruiser whizzing by and the gunplay in the climax. The lower frequencies are represented passably well. Not terribly different than I'd expect from an appearance on cable.

Water's Edge isn't closed captioned, but it does include subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: The only extras on the DVD are trailers for Water's Edge (1:44), Wonderland (2:13), and Shattered Glass (2:10). All three trailers are full-frame and sport Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (192Kbps). The movie has been divided into the twenty-four chapters listed on the back of the case, and the disc includes a set of static 4x3 menus.

Conclusion: Fans of the cast, particularly Nathan Fillion, may want to keep an eye out for Water's Edge on cable or shell out a few bucks for a rental. There's nothing about the movie or its release on DVD to make a purchase particularly compelling. Rent It.
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