Sunday, February 19, 2012

Divorce and Child Custody Movie Review - Dark Water 2005

Today I review Dark Water from my collection of divorce, child custody and child support related movies.

Dark Water [2005] - Director Walter Salles brings to the screen this Kaidan [Japanese Horror] genre film by writer Koji Suzuki. The Kaidan is my favourite genre of film as this Japanese style involves the supernatural aspects of ghost or poltergeist centered around a revenge plot. The remake of Ju On, The Grudge -- starring Sarah Michelle Gellar -- a year earlier thankfully opened the doors for US audiences to this style of film. This ghost story has the added subplot interest for me of a child custody battle.

This movie opens with both parents meeting with mediators and discussing the attempt by each to locate new residences. Father suggest living within close proximity to each other to facilitate a Shared Parenting arrangement. Mother immediately accuses father of never having been interested in daughter prior to separation. The tone is set for the relationship between the parents and that this is clearly going to be a child custody battle movie. Unlike Kramer v Kramer however the child custody battle is actually a subplot to the dominant feature of the film which is a ghost story.

For me this is absolutely ideal as I have a keen interest in the manner in which child custody matters are portrayed and I also enjoy entertaining the fantasy of that a supernatural where people return from the dead actually exists.

The mother and daughter are shown shopping for an apartment which introduces the sales manager, John C Reilly. The building is in shambles but Reilly assures that some planned cosmetic changes will liven the place. The daughter is at first reluctant but quickly, if somewhat mysteriously, embraces the building.

The viewer is then taken back to mediation where the father promises a legal battle because the mother has moved so far away making parenting time exchanges difficult. The film continues to develop the characters and the eccentricities of the daughter which eventually become of concern to her school teacher and others. Meanwhile there is a continuing problem of a water leak in the apartment and flooding of the upstairs apartment which is furnished but unoccupied by the tenants.

The mother consults with an attorney and then heads off to see her daughter at school. The daughter makes mention of her father not liking the school. The mother is then shown meeting with the teacher who states that the father came by to leave his emergency contact information and then, reading the mother's facial expressions, asks if there was a protective order or something baring the father from coming to the school. This provides a very real portrayal of the dynamics between embattled parents and the third-parties that are ensnared in the situation.

At the conclusion of a weekend parenting time the father mentions a scheduling conflict the following weekend and the mother readily agrees to his proposed change. The custody conflict remains at the forefront but is underplayed giving more opportunity for the ghost story and the mysterious dark water to unfold. Eventually the source of the dark water is revealed in a climactic situation that compels the mother and daughter to relocate.

The film concludes with an amicable relationship between the parents being established and the needs of their daughter becoming prominent. It's a warm conclusion more apt for fairy tales than reality but hopefully something that may be a trigger for parents embattled in a child custody case.

If there is a movie that you would like reviewed please send a request to me. The complete list of movies I have reviewed may be viewed here.

If you need assistance with parenting time, custody or support issues please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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