The Waterdance (1992)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Medical Drama, Psychological Drama, Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - May 13, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Clark

A terrific example of how to tell a sentimental tale without being mawkish, this impressive first film by Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg avoids all the standard-issue nonsense about physical therapy and recovery that has been explored in many movies to create a refreshingly perceptive view of the subject that refuses to take the easy way out. Sexual dysfunction and internalized anger are just two subjects the film brings into the light with refreshing candor.The acting is uniformly superb, with Wesley Snipes especially strong in a rare character role. What is most impressive about the film is its quietness: scenes of blatant screaming matches and Oscar-bait soap opera are absent here, and the film is all the better for it. The Waterdance has an effective core of recognition and sense of genuine empathetic storytelling, making it entirely memorable and irrefutably affecting. This film was an Audience Award prize winner at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, which was awarded to writer/director Jimenez, who himself has been paralyzed since 1984, very much like the character Eric Stoltz plays in the film.