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Lady in the Water review

July 26, 2006

Cute legs.



M. Night Shyamalan tends to have strong casts in his blockbuster movies. Lady in the Water is no exception. Bryce Dallas Howard continues the trend of holdover Shyamalan actors. First it was Bruce Willis with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, then it was Joaquin Phoenix with Signs and The Village which also starred Howard. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see the trend continue with Paul Giamatti who is obviously an exceptional actor.

Other castmembers include one of my favorites in Bob Balaban, a solid performance from an actress I would like to see more of in Cindy Cheung, another nice actress in Sarita Choudhury, and finally, a performance many consider to be pretentious by M. Night Shyamalan himself.

I personally don’t see why so many critics got so upset with Shyamalan’s character. Without giving away too much, the story is obviously a fantastical one, and his character is no more preposterous than any other. Why is Shyamalan being accused of self-aggrandizement when men like Clint Eastwood and Orson Welles are applauded for their efforts as both actor and director? Granted, Shyamalan isn’t as strong an actor as they, but he isn’t a detriment to the films by playing the rather small roles he has either. Is it merely because he is playing a writer that will end up influencing the world? Shyamalan has actually done that to a lesser extent already with his films. Is it simply because of his rather negative slant on film critics in the film? Critics are such hypocritical bastards.

I think the main reason people in general are so upset with Shyamalan is because he doesn’t make cookie-cutter movies that our unimaginative society can gorge themselves on so readily. Sure, his movies conform to his formula of success, but so did Hitchcock’s. That’s ok if you have your own style to adhere to. Why must he shovel out some crappy, Tom Cruise movie or a teenie-bopper boob-fest? Leave that crap to Spielberg, Disney, and the rest of the industry who have lost their creativity.

Oh yeah, I was talking about the cast.

Cast = 17


I like the fact that Shyamalan has a continued relationship with James Newton Howard. It adds an element of continuity to the Shyamalan feel. If Shyamalan ever wants to buck the comparisons to The Sixth Sense he will have to make an entirely different film at some point, and that would include a new auditory experience. Till then, there ain’t nothing wrong with Howard.

Soundtrack = 17

Quote/Catch Phrase

Hmm. This category could really sink the overall score of the film. Not all movies need a good catch phrase, but most could probably supply a decent quote. Ahh, it took me a minute, but I remember one. “There is no originality left in the world, Mr. Heap. That is a sad fact I’ve come to live with.” So says the film critic played by Bob Balaban. I couldn’t agree with him more.

Quote = 18


Lady in the Water is a fantasy set in the modern world. If the setting would have been say 12th century France, I doubt so many people would be upset with it. However, the setting is 21st century Pennsylvania. Most consumers are quite stupid and clearly lack any imagination. What else could explain the success of films like American Pie while masterpieces like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind do poorly?

Given this, Lady in the Water was doomed to mediocre draws at the box offiice. For those of us with the ability to see beyond the blatantly obvious, the film is entertaining. It seems to be a slight depature from Shyamalan’s surprise ending formula, and I must say I am pleased to see it. I loved the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but the twist ending can only be used so much. Some would consider Signs and The Village to follow that trend, but to a lesser extent perhaps. I don’t feel Lady in the Water has such an ending. Sure, there are some elements discovered in the last few minutes that weren’t previously known, but no shocking realization that needed a flashback to explain.

I was pulled into the mystery of the story, and was trying to figure out the roles of the characters just as much as Paul Giamatti’s character was. I must say that I was better at it than his character though. There was only one that eluded me, and I felt rather foolish for not realizing it sooner. I like how they rip on the critic for assuming everyone’s place in the world. That’s me I guess.

The very fact that I was engaged in the story as a participant makes it superior to the titty-fest that are most of the films released today.

Story = 19


I love Shyamalan’s movies. I own The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village. I fully plan on buying The Lady in the Water as well. However, there is a limited rewatchability to his films. Once you know that Bruce Willis is dead, The Sixth Sense loses some of its draw. I still enjoy watching them on occasion, but don’t watch them frequently. I think Lady in the Water has the potential for more viewings beyond the previous releases, but it will never be on par with comedies or classics in this regard.

Rewatchability = 14

Total Score = 85

4 Comments To “Lady in the Water”

#1 Comment By Nick Merano On July 28, 2006 @ July 28, 2006

In my opinion M. Knight Shymalan is one of the best directors today. His films actually make you think and are entertaining at the same time.

#2 Comment By Lister On July 28, 2006 @ July 28, 2006

I agree. There are only a few out there I think are worth crap and he is one of em.

#3 Comment By Webby On October 9, 2006 @ October 9, 2006

Dale said that he didn’t like the fact that they easily accepted that she was from another world. I really didn’t care about that cause originally he made this story as a bedtime story for his son. So I’d expect it to be more fantasy like. But yah, I quite enjoy his movies.

#4 Comment By Lister On October 9, 2006 @ October 9, 2006

I can see Dale’s complaint, but the very notion that such a world exists dictates that such behavior would be possible. Like you said, it is fantasy.


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