Lady in the Water

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Lady in the Water
Review (6.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

M. Night Shyamalan has to be given credit for at least one thing - orginality. Certainly you won't see anything quite like his latest effort - "Lady in the Water" - in theatres this summer. For some, that is a good thing. For others, it is not. In other words, this is not a movie for everyone. I was recently told that this can be said about all movies but perhaps M. Night movies deserve this disclaimer more than any other director in recent memory. But judging from the $2 billion Shyamalan has made for Disney over the last ten years, it would seem that his movies fall more in the category of "for everyone" that not.

Nevertheless, when presented with the script for "Lady" and despite the windfall of Night's past sucess, Disney ran like a frightened mouse. It took a visit from Warner Bros. private jet to Philadelphia and a meeting with some hotshot Hollywood execs in Los Angeles to get this movie made. Oh, and a few tears - apparently M. Night cried like a baby when Paul Giamatti did not call him back right away when offered the lead role in the movie. Yep, he cried. And then after waiting two days Giamatti called and things were on their way.

The end result? A typical M. Night Shyamalan movie. A fairly slow-moving movie with the odd flash of tension and suspense. A movie where the actors generally act subdued and solemn. A movie that asks us to suspend reality and go with the flow for 90 minutes to find out what the payoff will be.

"Lady in the Water" is a modern day fairy tale that tells us the story of Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), a superintendant at an apartment complex called "The Cove", who runs outside one day in hopes of finding a tenant swimming in the pool after closing hours. Instead, Cleveland stumbles upon a narf (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), a beautiful young creature from another world who has come to the human side to pass on some important information to an unknown writer whose work will eventually influence mankind. The narf is only allowed a limited time in the human world but her return to the Blue World is being prevented by a wolf-like creature called a scrunt. But somewhere in this forlorn apartment complex of misfits there resides a healer, a guardian, a guild and a symbolist, all of whom, when assembled, can ensure the safe return of the narf to her home. The problem is finding who has the hidden powers to save Story's (the narf) life somewhere in a group that includes amoungst others, an Asian mother and her wild daughter, an author and his sister, a sarcastic film critic, a family of five daughers and a body builder who only works out one side of his body.

So that, in a nutshell, is the story of "Lady in the Water". You can take it or you can leave it. It's up to you. My opinion? I've always been kind of lukewarm on M. Night movies. I mean I really look forward to seeing them and then after seeing them, I might want to check them out one more time and that's it, forever. "Lady in the Water" got the same kind of reaction from me. It was okay, at some point in my life I might want to see it one more time just to figure out what the hell was going on and then that's it, that's all for me.

Compared to his other movies, I really wouldn't say it's any better or any worse. I liked "Signs", I kind of liked "The Village", I thought "Unbreakable" was too slow and, not to brag or anything, but I figured out about twenty minutes into "The Sixth Sense" that the dude was dead (but still thought the movie was okay). "Lady in the Water" ranks in the middle for me. It's not his best, not his worst but very similar in tone and feeling to the rest of the movies. At least in this movie he throws in a bit of humour. There's some real laugh out loud moments in all the sombreness of "Lady in the Water". And as I said earlier, I give Shyamalan full kudos for trying to be original. I am sure Shyamalan's fans will remain loyal to him after seeing "Lady". It's kind of sad that the company for which he made a couple of billion dollars refused to do the same.

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