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First off, I can see why this film is going to be a box-office flop and
why critics and audiences alike will not like it. I, who usually
disagrees with most audiences, at least, thoroughly enjoyed this film.
The storyline itself is rather ridiculous, I must say. Some girl shows
up in a pool? She's a what-a narf? I went into the movie thinking I
would hate it, but I came out knowing that I had seen a work of art.
That's right. It was art.
First of all, it's a good family film, with enough tense moments to keep you watching, and enough laugh-out-loud moments to calm you down. It was refreshing for once to see a film with good, clean humour. The dialogue was not necessarily hilarious, but the actors, especially Paul Giamatti (Cleveland) delivered the lines extremely well.
The acting was tremendously well done also. Paul Giamatti is always fantastic, and while Bryce Dallas Howard seemed to act in the same manner as she did in The Village, she was still convincing. The ensemble cast worked well together. Some might bash M. Night for casting himself in a not-so-cameo role, but he proved that he can actually act! No, his performance will not win him an Oscar, nor should it, but I think there is definite talent there. I hope to see him in bigger roles, in films not his own.
The plot had many twists, maybe too many, but no matter. I kept trying to guess what was going to happen, but it I was always wrong. It was quite interesting.
What most made this film a work of art was the directing. M. Night has a rare talent that will go completely under the radar for this film because no one will see it. The camera angles were inventive-that's right, inventive. I may be one of the few who actually cares about camera angles and how a scene looks, but it looked great. The final product was polished.
I truly believe this film is M. Night's best work. He made the story up himself, wrote a screenplay that made us laugh, smile, cringe, and jump just a little, and directed a great ensemble cast including himself. Quite a feat.
So before everyone starts ranting about how stupid the storyline is or how "so-not-scary" the film is, just appreciate the uniqueness of the film, and remember what makes this film good. Forget the crazy story. It's everything else!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bottom line: Phili must be a crazy place to live.
I walk into every M. Night film knowing, good or bad, I am going to see a picture that is imaginative, original, and full of hope. This is one of very few writer/directors who actually strive to bring something new to the cinema on each different outing.
So, how was the film? Good. Dare I say, great? If you like his films, this one will definitely hit you deep. You'll put it at the top of your "M. Night List", and be glad to have it in your DVD collection later this year.
First, the acting. We all know Night has a habit of picking actors from the same pool. People he knows, trusts, and has worked with before. Willis has helmed two of his films, while Joaquin another two. This will be Bryce Dallas Howards second as well. We are used to Night writing his lead characters as more of a shadow of a man that once was. A tragic figure; this is no different in "Lady In The Water".
Giamatti plays Heep very, very well. But, because of Giamatti's inclusion into Nights' world, we see things much lighter. Willis, Gibson, and Phoenix had a habit of turning everything dark and dreary. And while Giamatti is still a tragic figure, he is eager to believe and more than willing to take the word of a half naked girl in his home. I, personally, believe that he is the greatest actor Night has worked with. And the result? A much lighter film. Thank God.
This is a fantasy. Not a horror, not a film with a twist (spoiler: there is none), which is good, because a twist would have put Night into an early grave. As a fantasy, a bed time story, Night treats us like children. Characters speak their inner dialogues, creatures with interesting names plague us at every turn, and the residents of this apartment complex are as interesting and comic as they are important.
There is still the important Night message: Purpose. We all have one. We all are meant to be somebody. Now, all we have to do is figure that out.
Even the intro reads like a children's' book; illustrations dance about in order to create a younger element to this tale.
The plot is simple. Nymphs, beasts, guilds, healers, etc. Almost like a role-playing video game in a sense.
The music and cinematography? Night kept his all-star team, and the project was helmed and sculpted beautifully.
The faults? I dare say Night could have done with less characters. They all seemed important, but it crowded the screen, and left us with a question: Is this that persons' only purpose? That's sad.
But, have fun with this film. It's a treat, as rare as Nights' films are.
Night brings a world of reality into a world of dreams, and the saddest point of the film, was when we had to wake up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As someone who loved The Sixth Sense and Signs, and who liked
Unbreakable, I've got to say it's disappointing where Shyamalan seems
to be taking his movies.
Lady in the Water has none of those attributes. For one thing, it's boring, something none of his other movies were. Here we have a sloppily unstructured mess of a film filled to the brim with incoherent bedtime story "mythology" that changes from one minute to the next, so even if you try and follow the world of the story your efforts will only be met with frustration. The film's flaws are many, and as others have and will point them out with much more dexterity than me, I'll simply list the films greatest foibles.
1) Shyamalan casts HIMSELF as a John the Baptist character who will inspire "a great leader who will change everything" from a hastily constructed presumable political treatise entitled, of all things, The Cookbook. Give me a break! As someone who styles himself as a modern day Hitchcock, M. Night should take a page from that man's book and continue to play cameo roles, not central ones.
2) His supporting characters are a mish-mash of ethnic and cultural stereotypes. The "Asian" student who attends university but cannot string together a coherent English sentence. Of course the otherworldly "mythology" is the remnant of some vaguely Eastern legend based on truth. The old Jewish woman is tackily dressed and her husband is always in the bathroom. Please.
3) The film/movie critic is one of the ONLY interesting and rounded characters, and Shyamalan kills him off as he rattles off trite contrivances. This character's appearance seems like a defensive self-conscious way to preempt the critical panning of this film. When a writer forces one of his characters to go on the defensive in dialogue, you know something has got to be wrong with a movie.
4) Shyamalan continues his now hackneyed convention of having a protagonist who's suffered tremendous loss in the form of familial death. Enough Already. Paul G is a great actor, the unnecessary back story about a dead family and a lost medical practice trite and out of place.
The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say this movie is a waste of celluloid, or hard drive space if you'd prefer. Avoid like plague.
I can't rate this film.
When I go to see a Shyamalan film, I expect to be entertained and stimulated, but I never know exactly how this will be accomplished. Shyamalan's films use ambiguity aesthetically and he draws his audience through the seduction of interpretive participation. Of all of his films, perhaps Lady in the Water does this most profoundly. Although I understood the entire film - the plot, the themes, the method - I walked away asking "what the hell did I just see?" It's easy enough to categorize the film. Lady in the Water is an absurdist comedy. But it makes you ask yourself why you are laughing. With Shyamalan's talent as it is, it is impossible for me to believe that any aspect of the humor of this film was unintentional. Yet the other side of LITW is dark fantasy, in the tradition of Michael Cohn's Snow White.
With a cast David Lynch would have been happy with, Shyamalan tells a fable from East Asia as it is experienced by a superintendent (Giamatti) at an apartment complex full of mundanely odd characters. A strange and beautiful young woman (Howard) has emerged from the complex's pool, apparently seeking contact with the surface world so she can find folkloric archetypes who can protect her from the evil creatures that hunt her and return her to her world beneath the waves.
Giamatti, Howard, and Shyamalan himself are all very entertaining. Howard - a very unusual looking and uniquely pretty woman - is shot so beautifully that it is very difficult to take your eyes off of her. M. Night's performance is so bizarre, it is hard to tell whether or not he is acting.
LITW is definitely the strangest film I have seen from Shyamalan. I have been up and down with him since the beginning of his career, enjoying his early films, very much disliking Signs, and being impressed with the Village. I believe that with the Village and LITW, M. Night is establishing a new and unique direction for himself. And if he keeps going this way, I will gladly follow.
I have been a fan of M. Night, ever since the first film I saw of his,
SIGNS. After that, I was a HUGE fan...I had to see the others. While
SIGNS had always been my favorite, I love how he blended moving
stories, with thriller aspects. After the critics bashed the VILLAGE
(which I found to be a very well made movie) I wondered if he could
recover or not. And here is is answer.
This movie, much like the other ones, is a "theme" movie, that goes deeper than nymphs, ghosts, or creatures in the woods outside. This movie explores "Purpose", a theme we don't hear from much from movies. Paul Giamatti is fantastic and real in this movie, and that's why he is one of my fav actors. He could actually nab a Oscar nomination for this movie. He is INCREDIBLE.
Bryce Dallas Howard is stunning...and while I think she was robbed last year at the Oscars for Village, I think this year, she will miss out on the award. She didn't stand out, because there was not as much depth to her character as their was for Paul.
Shyamalan actually performed a huge part in the movie, and a very moving part. The story was well crafted...and I actually think this may have been Night's most original and daunting task of a story he has written yet. I also think this is one of his best. It's not scary. It's moving. And actually has some comedy in it, which he missed in some of his other movies. In how many thrillers do you see a guy who performs an experiment, and only works out one side of his body, so it becomes 4" more muscular than the other. I love how he brought some many diverse people together: a critic who sees no originality in the world, a crossword puzzle genius, a stumped writer and his comedic sister, an old woman who has a thing with animals, and a man locked away in his solitude. The way they come together is incredible.
One of the best parts of the movie is the music. BY FAR, the BEST music in any of Shyamalan's movies. James Newton Howard has created a masterpiece soundtrack, that's sweeping chorus of angelic voices and swelling violins and cellos will leave you awestruck. And don't believe Shyamalan's lies about there being "no twist". there's about 10 twists...the entire movie will keep you guessing until the very end, which is to say the least, perfect.
People will tell you that the movie isn't worth 6 bucks, I'm sure, because it's not scary. They'll say that your getting gypped. I say you're not getting gypped. I'll say that Night is the one getting gypped. This movie is worth a lot more than 6 bucks.
After the sixth sense people have been expecting M. Night to shock and amaze them time after time. This is of course impossible. He made signs and the village which had their twists but left the audience with more of an "oh yeah" feeling. More importantly though his movies have become deeper in their actual message, his newest film is no different. if all you want is the amazement of a twist your in for a disappointment. Instead look at this movie for the message of hope it leaves you with, or the humor that abounds, the great acting involved, or even the amazing visual style and suspense. but don't just sit in the theater waiting to be surprised, your just wasting your time and missing the point of a really good movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard being M. Night Shyamalan. Year after year, his works of
uncompromised genius are poorly received by theatergoers and film
critics alike. Even Disney didn't want to make his latest film, Lady in
the Water, fearing that it was poorly written, featured too large a
role for the writer/director, and contained an embarrassingly
self-indulgent attack at his detractors, the crrritics. And as much as
I hate to agree with Disney, they were absolutely right.
The story, as convoluted as you've come to expect from the man, is not the main problem here. Sure, it's chock-full of narfs, tarturic, and poorly drawn stereotypes, but the larger issue for me was the cringe-inducing self-indulgence that runs rampant throughout the film. For instance, Shyamalan plays the role of an author, misunderstood in his time, who will one day influence a boy destined to become the president of the United States. Self-fulfilling prophecies, anyone? His acting is embarrassing and unintentionally hilarious in turns, and his reactions to pivotal plot points had me longing for the brief, campy cameos of years past.
While I can understand M. Night's desire to respond to the unenlightened critics that failed to see the staggering brilliance of his previous works, one has to question the response itself. Shyamalan is multitasking here, attempting to transport his audience through the magical realism of his self-proclaimed "bedtime story" while simultaneously denouncing his critics for trashing the gospel of M. Night. In the end, we're left with a fairy tale too aware of itself to fully envelop us and a pseudo-manifesto too delusional and self-important to inspire us in any way. In the end, Shyamalan made a film that can really only be enjoyed by himself. It's just a shame that the likes of Paul Giamatti, Bob Balaban, and Freddy Rodriguez have to go down with the Good Ship Shyamalan.
I think the thing about this movie is that people may go in expecting
it to be a weird horror/supernatural thriller. While it does have
supernatural elements, its much more of, well, I guess a fairy tale.
It's got some great scares but overall it will be enjoyed more if you
know ahead of time your not going to be sitting on the edge of your
The theme of "finding your purpose" definitely is poignant in this day and age, I love all the self reflexive humor as far as story structure goes too.
SFX were decent, not awe inspiring but good for what was required. The film is really about the characters though and their arcs. I'd say the film is much more for the introspective crowd than the hardcore comic kids who want plenty of screams.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Has M. Knight Shyamalan lost his mind? Is he a mad genius or just
loopy? Has he created a masterpiece or a mess? These are the questions
I'm still grappling with after watching THE LADY IN THE WATER. This is
most interestingly beautiful, confusing, and downright strange films
I've have ever seen. Wow, trying to come up with words to explain
what's going on in my mind after watching this film is impossible. I'm
not sure if I've seen the future of the cinema or the end of a popular
director's career. But I do know that THE LADY IN THE WATER cannot be
I think walking into this film, I had many preconceived notions. I know what an M. Knight Shyamalan film is, or at least what it's supposed to be. But THE LADY IN THE WATER challenges every one of those notions. There's no surprise ending, there are very few scares, and the film feels sloppy, half-hearted, overly confusing, and I understand why most will dismiss it. This is a movie that can't quite be nailed down and since the film bucks any and all convention. It's easy to find the conventional flaws everywhere.
The acting is disjointed, the plot is a mess, the dialogue is overly simple, the story is far too complicated and it all combines into something that seems pieced together on the fly. It feels almost as if Shyamalan has drawn a line in the sand. This line is all logic. This line is how far he expects us to go, and then out of nowhere the line suddenly falls apart. Shyamalan pushes us so past the line, it's easy to just give up. I think the line comes at a different point for each of us. The line disappeared to me when the little boy begins to read cereal boxes. It is so weird, so out of left field. This was at that point in which I had to decide if I should give up any semblance of logic and just give in to the sheer absurdity of it, or whether I should give up and pan it. Where that lines falls with you, may decide if you have a positive reaction to the film or not.
The plot is simple, or maybe not. A "Narf" named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) shows up in a pool at The Cove, and apartment community in Philadelphia. What's a "Narf?" Well it's kind of like a mermaid with human feet, or maybe more like an angel or a muse that lives underwater, both would be appropriate. Anyway Story is rescued by The Cove's resident superintendent Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti). Story is looking for a writer who's written work will cause a positive change in the world forever. On that trail Cleveland must protect Story from an evil creature bent on destroying her.
But what is this movie exactly? It is a bedtime story come to life. It's a fanciful yarn, a child's story and a wild imagination run amok. Like how MULLHOLLAND DRIVE was dream realized on film, THE LADY IN THE WATER is a campfire tale, it's not a terribly cohesive, and demands that the audience put the pieces together. I liken it to the weird tales I created with my action figures as a kid, or a nonsense story that a first grader may try to write. It's not designed to be pulled apart, just experienced at that moment. None of the pieces quite fit, a lot of times if feels as if the film is grasping for straws. Sensing that it's lost most of the audience it gives into its oddness, and it revels in it. But is that by design?
The other side of the coin is that this is a badly made movie. It's the wild ranting of an over zealous personality. The first credit you see as the film comes to a close is "Written, Produced, and Directed by M. Knight Shyamalan" and since he's been so successful maybe this film is an example of what happens when you allow a director too much room, and no editorial comment from the studio. Maybe this is a self-indulgent vanity piece, a sloppy mess of a movie that would have been easily dismissed had it not been created by Shyamalan himself.
Honestly, I don't know where I fall. I think I want to see the movie again. But I like the notion that this could be a step in the right direction for film as a whole. That Shayamalan has crafted a film that way ahead of its time. I'd hate to realize that there is nothing there because it would rob that odd sense of madcap joy I experienced with the film.
THE LADY IN THE WATER is the perfect remedy for what's wrong in Hollywood. Even if you hate every single moment of it, it encourages strong reactions. Whether that reaction is confusion, anger, or awe, this film cannot be easily ignored. So at this moment I think I will argue that THE LADY IN THE WATER is a brilliant film. That Shyamalan will get ribbed for it now, but will later be rewarded with a strong cult following. It's easily the best film I've seen all year.
This movie will surely earn its detractors due to its slow story telling. Todays audiences become bored the second something does not explode or die. This film isn't going to be a broad hit but instead it feels like a curious little independent film with big studio backing. Its more so a tale of finding ones purpose and will to live on as opposed to the fairy tale story that is ultimately its background. A nice change of pace from the stuff like "Little Man" and "Mission Impossible III". Not all movies are going to be liked by everyone, but given the chance Lady in the Water will find its following and make them feel a little bit better after seeing it.
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