Lady in the Water

Year: 2006
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

Of all M. Night Shyamalan’s movies this one seems to be the most hated and that is totally understandable.  I think Shyamalan gets a bad rap because everybody goes in expecting something different and that isn’t his fault at all.  It’s the studios fault for how they market his movies, and a lot of it has to do with The Sixth Sense because everybody is looking for that same kind of shocker at the end.  This is the wrong way to enter his movies though.  His films are about human nature more than anything else, set on a strange platform that gives people the wrong impression.  This movie is about a fairy tale come to life, but it isn’t really about that fairy tale at all.  This movie is about loss and purpose.  It’s about a man lost in the world with nothing left but the next day and the jobs to keep him busy.  He is a man in secret pain and going forward only because he doesn’t know what else to do. The lady in the water is simply someone who makes him realize he still matters and gives him a place in the world again.

When I saw this movie for the first time I was in a difficult place in life.  I felt lost and without purpose myself and when I saw this movie it brought me to tears and understanding.  In the strangest way it gave me hope and the strength to keep going.  In some certain ways I am still here today because this movie gave me a reason to think that there was still purpose in life.  I don’t mean that anything about the Narf story or any of the fairy tale stuff in the movie moved me but this show of raw emotion did.  I felt this characters pain and related to it, seeing him find his own purpose in life was so motivating for me and did something to me that I can’t quite put into words.

This movie was nominated for multiple Razzie awards and actually won two.  Razzie Awards of course being the awards given to the worst movies of the year and again, I think it is understandable why it was nominated and even won.  Looking at this movie on the surface it does come across as really stupid.  You have to look past the surface in Shyamalan movies though, and nobody ever wants to do that.  Nobody wants to see the meaning within his movies they only want to “see dead people.” Shyamalan instantly became on of the biggest names in the business after he burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense.  It was a great starting point for his career but it really just set the bar too high for his viewers.  There is an audience out there for this guys movies, I naturally include myself in it, but they aren’t the ones who he needs to impress to continue being successful.  The mass movie audience wants another shocker like the one they saw at the end of his first movie.  Those shockers haven’t been there because his movies aren’t there to shock, they are there to showcase the qualities that make us human.  Love and bravery(The Village), faith and forgiveness (Signs), good vs. evil (Unbreakable), or as we see in this movie loss and purpose in life.  If you would like to read our review of The Happening just click hereThe Happening seemed to be nearly as hated as this movie but not quite.  It was enough to make the studio crack down on Shyamalan though as his next film, Devil, was made by a different director.  I did not see The Last Airbender but refuse to take anybody else’s word for it.  I do not know any other Shyamalan fans and I cannot trust their opinions without seeing for myself.  This summer he has a new movie coming out that I am really looking forward to.  After Earth features Will Smith and his son Jaden as a father son duo trying to survive on our planet that is now uninhabited by human and very dangerous. Seems like a much bigger budget movie than he usually does and I am excited by those possibilities.  No doubt most of the people that watch it will probably hate it but I insist you will have to look deeper to get the real meaning of the film. M. Night Shyamalan, if you are out there, don’t listen to the haters man.  I get what you do and appreciate all the films you make. The Village is one of my favorites and I really feel like this movie had a significant impact on my life.

I think Paul Giamatti is an incredible actor who can display a wide range of emotions. His performance in this movie was one I have always related to.  He is a character in secret pain and no longer knows what his purpose in life is.  He does a great job at a job with no real significance.  It might be significant to the people he helps but as he says in the film anybody can do the job he is doing.  He may be exceptional at it but there is nothing exceptional about the job or the place he has found himself in life.  He needs something he just doesn’t know what.  He needs a purpose, he needs to do something to prove to himself that he still matters.  It’s why he is so invested in this silly story as it unfolds, it has given him purpose and made him special. Something about seeing this man find his purpose and let go of the pain that has plagued him did something to me the first time I saw it, and it has always given this hated movie so much significance to me personally.

I am a big fan of Bryce Dallas Howard and think she is a terrific actress. I don’t think this was her best role but I think she did really well with it.  There is this quality about her performance as Story that reminds me so much of Edward Scissorhands.  I think that is appropriate as there are certain similarities to the two characters.  They are both beings in the human world for the first time and experiencing for the first time all the little things we take for granted.  She has such an emotionless expression all throughout the film too that only adds to that quality.

Shyamalan inserts himself into all his films but in this film we see him take on the largest role to date.  I didn’t think it was that bad but as people love to hate this guy it only gave them an open ended opportunity to put him down.  He won the Razzie Award for worst supporting actor and I really don’t think it was appropriate.  Yeah I can see that he isn’t a professional actor in his performance but I didn’t think he was bad enough to warrant such an award.  I think the role he plays in the story is an interesting one.  He doesn’t write a book that will influence the world simply one that will influence one specific person who will grow to change the world.  I like that idea and admittedly the idea alone made me like his character more.

I consider all criticism of this film to be truthful and honest but I just happen to see it differently.  I have explained why and also understand I am in the minority when it comes to Shyamalan films.  I think this movie was worth my time but don’t really know that I can honestly say it is worth yours. I have never met another person who enjoyed this movie and I would never recommend it to anyone simply because I don’t expect them to like it as I did.  If anybody out there had a reaction to this film similar to mine I would be really interested to hear your opinion on it.  I loved the movie, and it would be nice to know I am not the only one that did.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I wonder if anyone will even read this considering we are the only ones left on I the planet that actually like Shyamalan. I don’t know what’s right about us (see what I did there?) but we think he is really intelligent in the stories that he tells. I feel like there are very little original stories out there anymore. I feel like he does that. I think that most of his movies have been incredibly original and I appreciate that. This one is very original. It’s about a Lady who lives in the water and she is trying to get back to her world. I think it is interesting and a break from reality.

ladyinthewater

This poster is beautiful. There are so many things going on in the background. In the textures you can see shapes and forms of other things from the story. I love the hidden imagery. On top of that and more importantly to me, the typography is truly terrific. The font choice has serifs that almost flow like water. The W fits in very snugly against the L and “in the” is lightly added. I really love the coloring as well. It makes it all the more fairy-tale like and intriguing.

NEXT MOVIE: The Ladykillers (2004)

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10 comments

  1. I think this is a brilliant film, unfortunately, you are correct, shyamalan fans are very much alone in the world. It’s almost impossible to discuss any of these richly layered films without people getting bogged down in technical details and broad criticisms like why aliens come to a planet with so much water? They tend to miss the entire point of the film.

    Lady in the Water is one of my favourites as the character moments are incredibly moving. Paul Giamatti was truly amazing when he finally forgives himself. This, in my opinion is onebofbthe most powerful performances of his career.

    1. That is exactly what I was hoping to hear from someone. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Glad to know we aren’t the only people out there who saw the value in this misunderstood movie.

  2. You are not alone. This is one of the very few positive reviews that I have read about this movie. I really liked it for the way it kept me guessing till the end.
    I don’t know if I was too dumb to realise it or the prestidigitation was too good with its ending. I believe four things affected LITW

    1. Disney pulled out—msg to people it is so bad that no one wants to finance it

    2. No big stars. It works well for indie movies. And here (I believe) it worked because the audience can never be sure which character will turn out to be what. That being said, lack of a clear heroic star in the movie had some effect on people’s interest.

    3. Shyamalan casting himself as the novelist who’ll change the world but not live to see it. This was a little bit too much of self-indulgence. But if we were to forget for a moment that it is a character and not Shyamalan in that scene, it is a little spooky especially when she tells him about his sister’s children. The critics made too much of it and tabloids started to pick this as evidence that Shyamalan was an egomaniacal entity who took himself more seriously than anyone should. And therefore by extension is not a credible person. It did not help that The Village was promoted with a fake documentary which involved trying to portray Shyamalan as a mystical character.

    4. The movie critic character. I believe that this character was more of a distraction for the true sleight of hand. However, all the critics took it to be a personal insult (which it might have been) but then, why can the critics not digest the fact that they’re also indulging in similar name calling with his movies. It is always..Oh Shyamalan!..he dared mock us critics. Let’s play out a personal war against him by trashing everything he says or does under the guise of critiquing the movie.

    I also believe that a lot of anti-Shyamalan sentiment is because of the way his movies are marketed. And yes it has to do with the Sixth Sense effect. Since that movie had a twist ending, everyone expects his movies to be spooky/horror with twist endings. He has been typecast. Then when the movie turns out to be somewhat different, everyone starts bashing him up. I agree that some directors do have that one signature style of movie. e.g. MArtin Scorcese makes better Gangster movies than anyone else but this does not mean that every Scorcese movie is expected to be like Goodfellas or Casino.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate the thought you put into it and I can’t stress enough how nice it is to here someone else speak favorably about this film. As a fan of Shyamalan I fear what is ahead of him in his career. I love all of his films but each one seems to be more and more hated by the general audience. If he doesn’t find significant success with a new film I just can’t imagine he will have the juice to keep making movies as he has in the past. I have yet to see After Earth but as recently as yesterday heard someone bashing it. As I said in this review I just don’t trust the opinions of most people when it comes to his films. I am looking forward to seeing it for myself and establishing my own opinion of the film. As another Shyamalan fan I would be more inclined to trust your opinion of it. Have you seen After Earth yet and did you enjoy it? I will be watching it soon but it may take a while as we are trying to focus primarily on horror films this month. I would love to hear your thoughts on it just please be conscious of spoilers. I have managed to make it this long without knowing anything specific about the film’s plot beyond what was in trailers and that’s rare these days.

  3. I saw After Earth a few days ago and it is certainly not as bad as it is being made out to be. It brings a lot of Shyamalan’s elements to the table. The post-apocalyptic depiction of earth is truly refreshing. Although it is certainly not something of a turnaround movie, it should at least stop the slide.

    The thing which made it somewhat underwhelming for me was Jaden Smith’s casting. To me he appears to have just one expression throughout the movie—constipated. But then Shyamalan did not really have any control over casting. Also, I just feel that it could have been so much more if he had a free rein…

    I have myself begun to write reviews for certain movies that I feel about. It is still in its nascent stages. I have written a post I would like you to review

    http://thepersonalmoviereview.blogspot.in/2013/10/i-believe-in-m-night-shyamalan.html

    Perhaps you could give me some advice regarding how to go about it.

    I am a doctor by profession and a major film buff. I hope we could perhaps have a discussion sometime

    1. I haven’t understood the casting of Jaden Smith in anything really. He is a product of his parents popularity in Hollywood. I haven’t seen everything he has done because I will not watch The Karate Kid remake on principle but I specifically thought his casting in The Day the Earth Stood Still was a reach. It didn’t even make sense for him to be in that film but much of that film didn’t make much sense.

      I like how you described After Earth though and really look forward to seeing it for myself.

      I am always interested in discussing movies with people that know what they are talking about. Real movie buffs can be hard to come by because there are so many people out there who simply watch movies in passing. Too many people don’t take the time to really appreciate what they are all about.

      I practically grew up in a movie theater because of the circumstances of my youth. My dad was a theater manager and I spent a lot of time at the theater with the screen as my babysitter. So many films have had a significant influence on my life because they are what I learned from growing up. My wife and I own a very large film collection that we have been building for years. I have come to enjoy going through them one by one and writing what I know about them and what they mean to me. We have been doing it for over two and a half years now. It can be exhausting at times with everything else that goes on in life but it is a fun hobby. It’s specifically rewarding to get comments from people like you who have great things to say in response. I look forward to checking out your reviews and I will let you know what I think.

  4. First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to
    ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your mind prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my
    thoughts in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally
    wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?
    Appreciate it!

    1. Getting started is the hardest part. I usually always start our post while we are watching the movie we are writing about. I wait for something to pop in my head and write the intro right there. From there I finish them as get to them which can lead to an awkward tone all throughout. The best thing to do is have plenty of time when you write and keep it all congruent. Thanks for the comment and I hope this helps.

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