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Lady in the Water

A movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

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Lady in the Water - Urban Fantasy, Shyamalan Style

  • Nov 5, 2009
  • by
Pros: Unique story, good acting, music, style

Cons: Not much

The Bottom Line: This won't be the right cup of tea for some Shyamalan fans, but if you like his style and can handle a bit of urban fantasy, you're good to go.

When people hear M. Night Shyamalan's name, they think scary.  They think dead people and bizarre twists.  So I think when people saw the trailer for Lady in the Water, they were confused.  When they saw it in the theatre, they thought Shyamalan was slipping or lost his marbles or they just didn't get it.

Lady in the Water is not supposed to be a scary movie.  It's based on a bedtime story Shyamalan used to tell his children, transformed into a movie in the style that Shyamalan is arguably used to; slow, slightly more character-based, and with a few jolts thrown in.  When I saw it, the first thing I thought genre-wise was urban fantasy.  Not horror.  If the typical Shyamalan horror or thriller is what you're looking for here, you aren't going to get it, so move on.

However, if you're interested in what sort of urban fantasy Shyamalan has come up with, stick to it.  You might enjoy yourself.  Frankly, I liked this the most out of anything I've seen by him-probably because I prefer fantasy over horror any day.

The Cove is an apartment complex, the place where Cleaveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) works as the superintendent.  He's got a little house he lives in there, and his life is sort of...less than grand.  Until he meets Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), a strange woman he finds swimming late at night in the pool.  He learns from Story that she is to meet someone very special, and must do something for them before she goes home.  However, there is something standing in her way-and it has a lot of teeth.  Now the girl named Story needs the help of Cleaveland...and a story.

Some people fuss about little happening and how slow the movie is.  Mm, true, but this isn't exactly sword-and-sorcery fantasy or edge of your seat horror.  And I don't doubt that he probably had to extend the original story in order to get it to fit a few hours worth of film (after all, most bedtime stories aren't that long, right?), adding character development and such.  I kind of liked that it was slow, and normally slow drives me nuts.  I think the difference is that while it was slow, the plot moved along whereas in other movies, things can be slow and nothing useful at all happens.  It gave you time to absorb the characters and sink into the atmosphere.

Each character has a unique aspect to him or her.  I loved Paul Giamatti (course, I love him anyway) as Mr. Heep and his struggle to deal with life and now this new, strange person.  There's one man who believes he knows how everything goes.  Shyamalan himself is in this movie, and more than just a cameo, showing that the man can actually act as well as direct and tell a story.  Multitalented, that one.  The acting overall is just very good, Giamatti especially.

Some people wonder if there's a message in the movie.  I suppose, if you like.  How there's a bit of the extraordinary in the ordinary.  How you never know who you are supposed to be until you discover it yourself.  You can also see how Shyamalan makes sure that even some of the most insignificant details in the movie come around to matter in the end.  Sneaky man.  Or you can just watch it for a pretty good story and interesting characters; entertainment.  Whatever you like.

I think my only qualm about this movie is the ending.  And I mean after the climax; the very end end.  I thought maybe the characters would interact more, just a little bit, but it just kind of faded away and I thought, "That's it?  Aww."  Of course, that may also be because of my love for fantasy.  I wanted a bit more action at certain parts.  I wanted to see certain things.  But you're just not going to get those things with Shyamalan at the helm, and it's something you might as well get used to.  Speaking of which, the movie has that overcast, slightly blue color quality going on to help enhance the mood, similar to some of his other movies.  I actually didn't mind it here too much.  It worked, and wasn't present all the time.

Coupled together with a good soundtrack courtesy of Shyamalan's right hand composer, James Newton Howard, it's a solid movie that people can enjoy-provided they like this sort of style and genre.



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More Lady in the Water reviews
review by . June 08, 2009
Lady in the Water
Lady in the Water is easily an old school Steven Spielberg-esque film. Shyamalan has given us Cleveland Heap, who in true ET style,  is going to help a young woman make her way back home. There are, of course, enemies that stand in there way, but that is nothing compared to the lack of self-confidence in their ability to carry out this mission. Thankfully, they have an eclectic cast of supporting characters that will each in their own colorful way help these two do what they are meant to do.   & …
review by . November 17, 2008
Based on an ancient story   Of a Blue World we forgot   When mankind turned away from peace   Bringing decay and rot     To save us all, the story goes   A messenger is sent   Awakening a human to   Forestall our sharp descent     Of course there is a darker force   A creature full of hate   Sent to destroy the messenger   So we can't change our fate     A …
review by . June 01, 2008
Pros: Original and well acted.     Cons: Hard to see at times because of the low light.     The Bottom Line: Well, I want to see it again soon. I think that this is a movie that bears repeat watching to catch the fine detail.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. M. Night Shyamalan returns again with another dark twisted tale that makes us question some of our basic beliefs.       …
review by . September 30, 2007
Pros: Well acted, especially the every adorable Bryce Dallas Howard     Cons: Lacks energy; weak script; too far-fetched     The Bottom Line: M. Night Shyamalan is coasting along on reputation alone.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I loved The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 break out hit. The movie was mysterious, engaging and seriously frightening. None of the Indian born writer …
review by . January 28, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Shyamalan's films are somewhat quirky and offbeat and very much draw upon his own idiosyncratic (but neither entirely original or totally out there) sense of what kinds of stories ought to be told. They usually don't conform to the standard Hollywood storytelling model, which means there are gaps and inconsistencies and odd duck characters and miscues that aren't entirely justified or the structure of the films is slanted without a clear "beginning" "middle" and "end" or where a "twist" takes the …
review by . June 27, 2007
I have seen every M. Night Shyamalan movie and like most people I have also had my share of problems with them as well. No matter what you think of him or his films he will no doubt always give an interesting story and he does so with Lady in the Water. Like one of the characters say in this film "the world no longer has any originality" I definitely agree. With Lady in the Water you get complete originality with a weird array of characters. Paul Giamatti (Cleveland Heep) plays a building manager …
review by . January 18, 2007
From all the previews, I was expecting a real horror story ... NOT! Although I enjoyed some of the actors and thought Giametti, as the building manager, and Howard as the water nymph, were suited for their roles, this movie was too slow in getting started.    Once I figured out what was going on and got past the large cast of characters involved, it turned out to be fairly enjoyable ... but I had to view it as a semi-comedy instead of the horror movie that I expected.    Exce …
review by . March 16, 2007
The Lady in the title is named Story, and is played by Bryce Dallas Howard. The water is literally an apartment swimming pool, but is really the blue world that is Earth. The story of this movie is relationship between the apt superintendent and Story. She rescues him from drowning at the beginning of the movie, he then rescues her from the wolf. Later she sees into his troubled heart and rescues his soul by giving someone to care for again; her. At the end he rescues her by assembling the apartment …
review by . January 16, 2007
M. Night Shyamalan has provide us another interesting film. His earlier works have been very cynical, and sometimes dark which I had fun watching. This film, in the other hand, ventures away from that and the characters are in a dissimilar light. M. Night somehow made a movie that is compatible with children, and just as compatible with the adult. The humor doesn't lose its touch halfway through the movie, and in some respects the humor adds to the sadness. The opening tells us that this is a children's …
review by . December 26, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
LADY IN THE WATER is a very tough film to review. M. Night Shyamalan is doubtless a new thinker and has produced some original and interesting films (none of which equal the promise of his first one THE SIXTH SENSE) and LADY IN THE WATER has some very good aspects. It is just such a mixed bag, full of holes and hints of personal vendettas that it ultimately fails to achieve what it sets out to do.    The opening sequence tells a tale in charming line drawings about how we all …
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Nicole ()
Ranked #165
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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Or, if you prefer,I See Wet People. M. Night Shyamalan's attempt at a newfangled mythology--about a depressed apartment superintendent (Paul Giamatti) who discovers a sea-nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) who may hold the key to humanity's hopeful future--is intriguing enough to capture the imaginations of children and adults who haven't lost sight of their innocent sense of wonder. Cynics, on the other hand, will likely scoff at Shyamalan's awkward fantasy, which includes one victim--a film critic--widely interpreted as Shyamalan's revenge against reviewers who pannedThe Village. Shyamalan originally improvised this melancholy fantasy as a bedtime story for his children; unfortunately, it still feels mostly half-baked and ultimately ineffective due to a number of plot holes and inconsistencies that a writer as talented as Shyamalan should've been able to avoid. For those wishing to learn more about the film's troubled history, and Shyamalan's petulant split from Disney studios,The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Taleis an interesting read.--Jeff Shannon
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