Director Kathryn Bigelow may produce broad, middling big-budget fare when she has a studio breathing down her neck and a big-name star to appease, as she did in this summer's Harrison Ford submarine thriller "K-19: The Widowmaker." But left to her own devices, she's capable of creating fine layers of intimacy and intensity, as she does in "The Weight of Water."
The film, released two years ago in Europe, is a character-driven dual narrative -- the story of a troubled couple spending a tense working vacation on a sailboat with the husband's brother and his enticing girlfriend, and the story of a century-old murder on the New England island where they're anchored.
The wife Jean (played by the wonderfully nuanced and inconspicuously beautiful Catherine McCormack) is an intellectual photographer whose assignment to take pictures of the island and the murder site for a magazine story is the reason for their trip, and the movie's passport into the past. The husband Thomas (a complicated, imaginative and sullen Sean Penn), is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who some years ago stopped picking up his pen and started tipping back the bottle. Their normally steadfast but strained relationship is put particularly on edge by the company they're keeping on this trip.
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