Saturday, July 29, 2006

Movie Review: Lady in The Water

Sidetrack: The movie critics haven't taken very well to this movie. There seems to be some sort of a stand-off happening between Shyamalan and the movie critic fraternity. This movie attacks movie critics rather un-subtly. I think, in this war, the movie critics lost big time. Not because this movie is good. This movie is bad. As bad as a movie can get. They lost because, none of the critics actually commented on the movie. They spent considerable review space psycho-anylyzing Shyamalan. The behaved just the way "how can a human being pretend to know another human being's intentions" dialog mocked them to be. The critics fell right into the trap and commited idiocy exactly when they were being called idiots. How much more caught-red-handed can it get? I have completely lost respect for many movie critics (especially the idiot who is subbing for Roger Ebert). They are pussilanimous freaks who don't react well to critisism. Reading the reviews you would think the character of the movie critic, called Mr. Faber (guy who plays the NBC chief exec role in Seinfeld) is the main character of the movie. But he appears for about 5 minutes. Shame on these so-called movie critics for being obsessed with that.

The movie is bad. It appears childish (not child-like) and progresses in a very silly fashion. I never liked Shyamalan, the director. I am least interested in him as a person. But for the now-cliched Sixth Sense, I thought he was way below par in his other three movies. Unbreakable did not have a story that was worth making a movie out of. Signs was a let-down. The Village was a sham and like Unbreakable had material only worth a 1 hour X-files episode. A classic case of hype over matter.

The main flaw with the movie is, people in this movie, don't react the way normal people would. They are so naive, so trusting, so cut-off (like people in his other movies) from the rest of the world. If a situation happens and you expect a normal reaction and you don't get it - The atypical reaction better be good, at least logical. This movie like many of his other movies, have laughably silly reactions. We, the audience, all aren't from the blue world, are we? Then why is the movie so childish? For example: In this movie, once Mr. Cleveland knows that Story (name of the female lead character) is a fairytale Narf from the blue world, he doesn't alert the police, call the NSA or do anything that is large-worldish. He lets a stranger stay in his house forever. Who would do this? He, a grown up man, believes in this narf story thing too soon for my comfort. He takes the words of a Chinese mom's recollection of a grandmother's story to be the encyclopedia of the Blue World. The way the other residents, all grown up adults, believe it in such a blindingly quick fashion, makes me think they have no brains at all. The whole interpretion scene using the newspaper crossword puzzle and cereal box, to determine the future course of actions just takes us for a ride. It is silliness smack on your face. I was vomitting repeatedly when they assemble near Story for the healing process. This silliness makes me doubt if the director ever put some serious thought into making this movie. Signs, had a reasonable amount of sincerity in the script, even though it had, pretty much, the same flaws this movie has. This movie is such a sham. M.Night Shyamalan, right now, is a one-hit wonder.
If I have to name a positive in this movie, it is the self-reference. The 5-minutes that the movie-critic appears and talks - events surrounding it are actually a commentary on the movie itself, giving rise to pretense of layers within the movie structure. Brief but exciting. The story's premise is very good. It in fact is a very good idea. Just poorly executed.


tilotamma said...

And I also wondered about the mystery/suspense/thriller angle.
Why can't he make some ordinary movies, even Hitchcock did.

I would love to watch his first docu -film which was made mostly in Madras called "praying with anger". Also there was some report that he was going to make a movie on Life of Pi, but I was guess that was too ordinary for him.

Venkat said...

Intresting.., though I haven't seen anything post "Sixth Sense", the tamizhan in me likes to beleive Shyamalan is good.

Is there a chance that you've proabably gone overboard judging the movie in your quest for logic in what seems like an "out there" story ? just asking..

Reel Fanatic said...

Great review .. I haven't much cared for m Night since "Unbreakable," so I've avoided this one thus far .. I'm thinking about breaking down and giving it a try today, but we'll see

Hawkeye said...


thats his genre. he is mostly focusing on these B movies.

i havent seen praying with anger either. should catch it on DVD if its available.

Hawkeye said...

/*the tamizhan in me likes to beleive Shyamalan is good */

:-) isnt he a mallu brought up in pondicheri.

it is an 'out there' story. but has not been presented to an audience which is not 'out there'.

sometimes i wonder if the central characters were all grown up kids and he expected us to be the same too.

Hawkeye said...

reel fanatic,

i avoided 'unbreakable' until it came on TV. i saw 'signs' in thater, avoided 'village' and saw it on TV. now i saw 'lady in the water' in theater. so i am kind of alternating

Nilu said...

I would disagree with both Tilo and you. But Anand does a better job

Hawkeye said...


1. anand's analysis was about m night shyamalan and hitchcock

2. this post was about lady in the water and my general dislike for shyamalan

3. unfair to compare me with anand. too high a bar for a non-pro like me.

4. i read anand's post the moment he wrote it. its a subjective prefence. i dont like shyamalan. shyamalan doesnt thrill me like fincher.

4. david fincher. did not know you were a fan. i worship him. seen his movies 700 times

Venkat said...

oops.., I wasn't aware that he was a mallu. anyways i'd be happy if he does well all the same..!

have read Anand's review and would proabably end up watching the Village.

not sure about "Lady in the water"..

Nilu said...

ada ada....enna sonnalum athukku ipdi oru bathila?

Anupadmaja said...


Anupadmaja said...

Why should he make an ordinary movie ... to appeal to who as what?

Hawkeye said...


i can only speak from one viewer's angle. i dont know his motivations. i did not like it.

for all we know this cud be another 6th sense for him, and i didnt get the point.

sometimes a director can lose the audience pulse

Jonathan Pruss said...

This movie Lady in the water was greatly executed in every way! His suspence building non-exsistant storys are beyond belief yes, but why else would we go to the movies except to be entertained in a quality story telling manner of greatness- which none of us posess!Every character falls into the idea of something great that is taking place because they know in the back of there minds destiny awaits us all! There is always a bigger picture than what we see in life and in general! Thats why when people like myself who go to see a film like this one, we are captivated by the very experience! Please dont shun something that one mind alone can create!

Hawkeye said...

jonathan pruss,

it might have been a great story but it is told in a very childish way. the story did not play to its own rules.

i think most of us are intelligent enough to make the leap of faith whenever the director asks us to. in this movie the leap of faith is - the blue world narf things exist. I made that.

beyond this it should be entertaining and at the same time make sense according to the rules it has set for itself. it cannot insult intelligence, which is what this movie does.

Anupadmaja said...

Bharath, my second comment was a question that i hoped would help me understand Tilo's requirement:
"Why can't he make some ordinary movies, even Hitchcock did."

Call him a bad director / dont go watch his movies - thats your opinion. But i really dont understand why he should make normal movies. What is that supposed to accomplish?

His movies have a nice mix of thrill/mystery/horror, but none of his movies have belonged to any one of these clear categories. Even the much battered, the village, had its share of surprise - just a different kind of surprise that we are not used to - which actually makes it sound better as a surprise - probably why some of us liked the movie :).

From what i have heard, (not seen the movie yet), Lady in the water is about a character right out of a fable - may be it was intended to be childish - but i repeat, i havent yet seen the movie. Signs had its share of let-downs but its okay for a one time watch. I really dont understand why anyone would have a problem with "The Sixth Sense" - may be its not a great movie but whats so bad about it?

His movies present abnormalities and normalities in a good mix. Sure there is a ghost ... but even as a ghost it is kind of normal - doesnt possess the capability of beating up 40 trained chinese fighters with 2 minutes of revengeful instincts and a sword like typical thriller directors would fantasize.

Shyamalan is BOLD. He has seemed different so far. If he is that bad a director, he will stop making money out of his movies. That will end his story. Why do you want a bad director to make a normal movie and survive in the industry? :)

Hawkeye said...


just wanted to make sure the rant is for tilo, who wants shyamalan to make "ordinary movies" and not against me who never requested any such thing.

in fact I dont remember uttering the word hitchcock even in my response to her.

I agree sixth sense was a wonderful movie. it really was. but after seeing 'unbreakable' , i thought " now whats the big deal". I felt the premise of the story was too thin for a 90 minute movie. Signs, was better than unbreakable, and as you said is a 'can see once' category. but i increasingly got tired of the pace. i love watching slow movies but I felt here the reduction in pace was unnecessary as it did not contribute to overall flow of the movie.

The village, lets just say, is silly.

as i said in my response to the prev comment i can make a leap of faith and accept a fantasy but it is difficult for me to digest his blatant ignorance of common sense or real world logic. its like "ignore the fact that he cud have talked to police" - "ignore the fact that he cud have run away from the village in signs" - "ignore xyz" - "ignore abc".

he does not exhaust all possible options a character may have with a situation. his movie present the choices the characters make as the only possible choice or the most logical choice, when it is least logical. that bothers me a lot.

these comments is not directed ate sixth sense

Hawkeye said...

oh one more point! his movies ignore the exitance of a world beyond the character's immediate surrundings. "war of the worlds" dealt with the world from tom cruise's eyes but it also allowed for interventions from outside his world.

in signs there is no mention of an outside world except for a small TV program that showws the news of aliens in mexico. village is a closed world altogether.

in village there is a funny scene where a party is going on. there are 100 people in the party by the pool. those people are taken into account and ignored at convenience for screen play to progress. at one point it was so funny as to what these people were doing in the first place when none of the hosts are even around.

Hawkeye said...

errata : in "lady in the water" there is a funny scene - party...

i know that WoW is by speilberg. i mentioned it to give a example of the contrary

Anupadmaja said...

I just dont see why he should make normal movies ... that is all.

I do not vouch for his good or bad directorial skills coz thats an opinion. Its yours and its mine.

Anonymous said...

It's a good movie from my view, It's more about the purpose of the main point of the movie, that if someone stands up to what they believe in, there will be change, not significant change but a minor.

Also the people you said that was chinese, they're korean. Don't generalize all asians as chinese, its offensive as putting arabians as terrorist.

Nilu said...

I want him to make 'lady in the underwear'.....en pechha yaar kekkara

Hawkeye said...

was there any mention of the girl and her grandmother being korean. if there was i missed it. but as far as i know there was no such mention.

i didnt categorize all asians as chinese. night shyamalan and his sister character were asians and i thought they were indians.

i cant differentiate between koreans and chinese. italians and germans, americans and canadians, iraqis and irnanians. jamaicans from trinidadians. thats just me.

fyi; i wouldnt mind if you couldn't distinguish between pakistanis, indians and bangladeshis. its hard. i know.

Anonymous said...

Happens even to NYT reviewers apparently :-)

Correction: May 10, 2004, Monday A film review in Weekend on April 30 about the teenage comedy ''Mean Girls'' misstated the ethnicity of two Asian-American characters. They are jealous Vietnamese girls, not Korean.

A friend :-)

Anonymous said...

thaaka, thaaka Tilo-viy thaaka va padupavi!!

Anonymous said...

I saw Lady in the Water and it was awesome. The great points about a Shayamalan movie is how he keeps you guessing all the time...And the way he links stuff and the messages (subtle) but stirs our emotions (hope, faith etc...)

I defintely rate Shyamalan as one of the great directors in present and he fully deserves to be Hollywood's most expensive scriptwriter.....

Bottomline: Awesome Movie - MUST SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

klsb said...

i'm pitching in with my two cents a little late in the game.because i had to respond to these two lines as the basis of your write-off of his preface i agree that everything after sixth sense was flawed logistically within the narrative world. but you stated that giamatti could have gone to the police or people could have bailed from the village. in the case of LITW, the writer sets-up his story well. giamatti and all the rest of the people in that condo housing place, were leading extremely ordinary , routine lives with "nothing out of the ordinary" ever happening to them. that is the reason why when a BEATIFUL ETHEREAL woman enters their life and asks for help they all believe. the way we all will be drawn into participation in what seems to be magical and destiny bound if we were ever offered the chance in our ordinary lives. and adults believe and react like children because the child in all us never dies, it only gets sushed down by the parameters of reason that exist in the adult society so that they can conduct normal life with out being distracted by "delusions". so basically the set-up is that if people were given a a chance to be part of something extraordinary , they will, abandon reason and participate in a hope to be remembered.and clearly giamatti could not go to the police because the police(law) supposedly are the most logic based group in society and simply would not "buy" into the story and instead write him off as the senile super.
With regard to 'the village' no one looks to get out, because again metaphorically shyamalan is demonstrating through a make believe world, how in the real world people are always handicapped in their ambition by what they are conditioned by society to believe. that the world (outside) is a risky/scary place and we should always progress with caution and it is better to live a safe albeit restrained/conformed life as opposed to question this norm and "pay " for it. this is especially true in india where parents are always leading children to choose the "safe" sciences" instead of encouraging them to create a career based on talents and aptitudes.