Screenwriter and first-time director Neal Jimenez drew on personal experience for THE WATERDANCE, a tough-minded comedy-drama about three paraplegics adapting to life in a wheelchair. Joel Garcia (Eric Stolz) is a promising young novelist who has broken his neck in a hiking accident.
Garcia was having an affair with his married editor, Anna (Helen Hunt), who was about to leave her husband for him when Garcia's accident occurred. With his world turned upside down, Garcia begins having second thoughts about their relationship and questions whether Anna will stay with him in his
new, physically dependent condition. He has little regard or use for his wardmates at first, but gradually he gets to know them. A member of a biker gang, Bloss (William Forsythe) was broadsided by a car while riding drunk. Though an unapologetic redneck bigot, Bloss strikes up a bickering
friendship with Black wardmate Raymond Hill (Wesley Snipes). Hill continually brags about his sexual conquests, but his only visible partner is his wife, who is divorcing him and taking their daughter with her.
Co-directed with Michael Steinberg, Jimenez populates his episodic tale with characters who are believable rather than heroic, sympathetic if not always likable, and avoids the sentimental or the moralistic by undercutting the tragedy with some barbed humor. The cast is generally good, with Hunt
(MR. SATURDAY NIGHT, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED) taking top honors for giving substance to a relatively sketchy part. Stolz and Forsythe are solid and Snipes is extraordinary. He disappears so thoroughly into Raymond that it's hard to imagine the same actor as the slick, successful architect in Spike
Lee's JUNGLE FEVER. Elizabeth Pena (JACOB'S LADDER) contributes an effective turn as the ward's head nurse. The real star here, though, is Jimenez, a talented filmmaker who clearly has a lot more still to offer.
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Screenwriter and first-time director Neal Jimenez drew on personal experience for THE WATERDANCE, a tough-minded comedy-drama about three paraplegics adapting to life in a wheelchair. Joel Garcia (Eric Stolz) is a promising young novelist who has broken hi… (more)