Life by accident


Life by accident

Directed by Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg
Written by Neal Jimenez
Starring Eric Stolz, Helen Hunt, Wesley Snipes, William Forsythe, Elisabeth Pena
Begins at KINO, Melbourne, mid-late July
Reviewed by Ulrike Erhardt

Waterdance should be subtitled, "Sometimes life happens by accident". It focuses on three men sitting with broken necks, paralysed, in a physical rehabilitation centre.

Joel Garcia (Eric Stolz), a writer, is a partner in paralysis with reckless Bloss (William Forsythe), a rough-and-tumble racist biker, and violent Raymond (Wesley Snipes), a hard-living black man. In charge of them is nurse Rosa (Elisabeth Pena), who keeps her patients dreaming of love.

While each tries to come to grips with past regrets and an uncertain future, they learn to live with their altered circumstances. Wheelchair battles replace fist fights, sexual passion happens more in the head, and caustic humour supplants the agony of loss, expressed by either denial or depression.

They nevertheless manage to celebrate life by insisting on being in control and refusing to be on the receiving end. This is made particularly clear in the dealings of Garcia with his girlfriend (Helen Hunt), a married woman whom he had already known before his accident.

Writer/director Neal Jimenez has based Waterdance on his own story: he broke his neck while camping with friends, slipping on a path at night, becoming paralysed from the waist down. His script digs deeper because not only his characters want redemption.

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