Head Above Water

Perhaps if you didn't know this was meant to be a dark comedy, you might take it for a pedestrian thriller shot through with the occasional flash of unpleasant humor and figure you'd seen worse. But its farcical pacing and strenuous air of "can you top this" hysteria give it away, and there are few things grimmer than the morbid spectacle of gag after gag...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Perhaps if you didn't know this was meant to be a dark comedy, you might take it for a pedestrian thriller shot through with the occasional flash of unpleasant humor and figure you'd seen worse. But its farcical pacing and strenuous air of "can you top

this" hysteria give it away, and there are few things grimmer than the morbid spectacle of gag after gag falling flat, gasping desperately for so much as a giggle. Sober, middle-aged George (Harvey Keitel), a respected judge, has recently married much younger Nathalie (Cameron Diaz), a screwed-up

little rich girl addicted to prescription tranquilizers. They make a honeymoon trip to the isolated island where her parents own a lavish beach cottage, and in the name of friendliness George goes off on an overnight fishing trip with hunky caretaker Lance (Craig Sheffer), Nathalie's childhood

friend. During their absence, Nathalie's old boyfriend Kent (Billy Zane), a handsome, alcoholic rogue with a weak heart, makes an unexpected appearance, rowing up to shore in a stolen boat laden with romantic gifts. When morning rolls around, Kent is mysteriously dead -- not to mention

inconveniently naked -- and the clueless fisherman are arriving home several hours ahead of schedule. Nathalie panics, and soon everyone is doing monstrous and frequently distasteful things of such preposterous, mind-numbing stupidity that it's hard to imagine caring about the consequences.

Originally aired on HBO, this comedy of corpse-manhandling is painfully unfunny. Sheffer and Keitel have absolutely no comic gifts (one is wooden and the other just plain scary); Diaz does, but you'd never know it.

{