Woman of Water (Mizu no onna) [2002] • Japan

A very nice looking indie art house film that seems like it might roll over and play dead at any minute but never does. It also never really gets up and goes anywhere either, which is fine because films that are nice to sit back and look at might as well move along at a leisurely pace. Woman of Water is a bunch of pretentious, metaphorical poetry about man and woman and fire and water fueling a story about a woman who runs a bath house and whose intense emotional states are always accompanied by rain and the arsonist whom she hires to stoke the fires that keep her bath water warm.

The film stars singer UA (pronounced "oowa") in her first movie role and gains a lot of art house credibility by pairing her with Japanese heartthrob Asano Tadanobu. They both get naked a bunch of times so it's a gawker's paradise as far as these things go. Even though UA is playing water her dark sensuality is more earthy than watery and her sex appeal is more ethereal than liquid. Born Kaori Shima, her stage name UA is Swahili for flower or kill. She's not idol-of-the-month beautiful by a long shot, more mysterious and a little worn looking with a well-grounded and tough charisma. She does fine in her acting debut even though her main responsibility lies in being photographed well more than exercising any major thespian chops.

Don't go into this one hoping for any strength of narrative. It's meandering and opaque. Both of the characters have baggage in their past meant to give the film some emotional appeal but it might as well be a silent movie with the freewheeling and oblique way the plot develops, mixing dreams, fantasies, deja vu, and visual metaphors in equal measure. This one is for fans of art house esoterica only.

Director: Hidenori Sugimori
Starring: UA, Tadanobu Asano, Hikaru, Yutaka Enatsu, Ryûichi Ôura



  1. just watched this today, was surprised it was from 2002 since it seems it could have been made anywhere from 1996 till just this last year.

  2. Never thought about that, but now that you bring it up, yeah. It is sort of timeless.