Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Lady in the Water (2006)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban


Shyamalan creates yet another movie about sheltered, isolated characters exposed to supernatural monsters. They’re always about how these characters respond and grow from these supernatural experiences. And Shyamalan is really good about building emotion and setting the mood in a scene. The scary parts are scary, the touching parts are touching. But this time, the story really sucked.

It’s a fable, and a ridiculous one at that. Shyamalan should be doing everything he can to make us believe. But the characters, grounded in a Philadelphia reality, enthusiastically believe what’s going on without questioning anything. Characters interpret crossword puzzles and read cereal boxes to unlock the secrets of hte universe. And then there are the silly names like “narf” and “scrunt” (thanks to Village Voice for encouraging me to Google “scrunt”). How can we take things seriously?

Giamatti makes the most of his wacky role, and Howard really does look like an alien. Despite the fact that he’s a decent actor, it’s distracting to have Shyamalan playing one of the major characters. And the critic’s self-aware plot humor almost took me completely out of the movie.

Why do Asians know the story and no one else?

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