By Lawrence O'Toole
Updated February 12, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Inspired by the true story of screenwriter Neal Jimenez, who became paraplegic from a hiking accident, The Waterdance is modest but compelling. Set in a rehabilitation center, the story is less about the physical ordeals the Jimenez surrogate, Joel (Eric Stoltz), must endure than it is about his complex relationships with his married girlfriend (Helen Hunt) and those around him.

With moments of disarming yet never sentimental warmth, the film quietly and surely makes its statement: The only essential difference between paraplegics and those who walk is wheels. And as portrayed in the growing bond between a self-pitying former lothario (Wesley Snipes) and a racist biker (William Forsythe), there’s a heartening example of how little control we have over where our affections find a home. Without being at all gushy, The Waterdance makes you feel grateful for what you’ve got. B+