Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Lady In the Water

We saw this movie last night so there are spoilers here! In case you have not seen it yet, just bookmark me and visit when you have.

I like Shyamalan's movies and have always found the stories creative, consistent and tight. Every scene, dialogue, shot has a purpose to help build the story.

He's dubbed this a "bedtime story," but I think of it as a fantasy story or a message in a bottle. The movie opens with an animated story of the history of Man and Narfs. This reminds me of something I've seen on Sesame Street, which is good. Its purpose is to lure the audience to a state of innocence and childlike belief before the movie starts.

Telling the secrets
The Chinese mother was a perplexing to me. He used her to spread the story, let it unfold. "Oh yeah, there's another thing." "Oh wait, there's this thing." Why didn't Shyamalan just let someone hold it another way - i.e., an ancient book or series of painting. Maybe the answers could have been in the trees or grass,. Maybe we're used to the "The Da Vinci Code" where we need to decipher clues, but it's based on something. Listening to the Chinese mother retell her grandmother's version is hard to digest. The only deciphering was done through the daughter.

Going through the mother seemed haphazard and unreliable. And, it would have been more beautiful to let her be part of the real events - as she already believed in Narfs.

Kill the Critic
I thought the critic was hilarious! Seems like Shyamalan put all his feelings toward professional film critics into this character. It was funny that the predictable suggestions the critic had made were all wrong (i.e., who's the symbolist, guild). Those are the predictions we in the audience would make and they went with it. The last scene with the critic said it all.

Story Time
My first question to Shyamalan is why did the folks not give real clothes to Story? Why did she have to walk around in a big shirt all the time? Bryce Dallas Howard has such expressive eyes, you've seen them in her father Ron before. I always thought nonverbal acting was more impressive than actual delivery of dialogue. I loved this shot of her - kudos to Mr. Shyamalan for using multiple mirrors to do a reflective shot. This is a fabulous shot because you don't know how to view her.
She could be anything. In the movie, her face is in one mirror, her shoulder in the other.

Paul Giammati. He's awesome. He captured the character, his insecurities, his feelings and everything.

I didn't realize the sister was played by Sarita Chaudhry (Mississippi Masala). Both she and Shyamalan did a great job as well. If there's one thing that stands out about Shyamalan movies, you have a rainbow of people on the screen - real people, fat, brown, skinny, old. People you would know. (Ok, except for "Signs" when you had those aliens!)

Oh yeah, the scary part
It is important to remember Shyamalan likes "suspense," not "horror." This movie is PG-13, so it's mild. There are the other creatures who live among us, in the shadows. Scrunts are just big scary wolf like creatures who hid among us. So maybe he is dipping into the European folk tales about the wolves as evil creatures. The tree monkeys looked like they fell out of Wicked Witch of the West's posse. I think he could've done better. Perhaps a more mystical apparition that appears and disappears would've been better. This was like a wild animal loose. (Come here, Cujo).

In the End
This movie is about hope for humanity. It has a warm, fuzzy feel to it - we are not alone, someone cares for us.

I felt like there was some gaps though. Getting the story piecemeal was hard. By the way, as a Disney Princess Mom, I had Ariel and the Little Mermaid deeply embedded in me. I see Story, I see Ariel's red hair. I see the grotto under the pool, I see the grotto where Ariel hid her treasures. And, Story stole human treasures too.

Also, I was surprised how readily all the tenants believed Cleveland when he told them. I think there should've been more "Are you for real?" However, letting everyone easily believe the story, made it feel more of a fantasy.

Anyway, do enjoy this movie for the fantasy, the hope, great acting and everything else.

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