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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Lady In The Water

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Judy Thorburn

Lady In The Water

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“LADY IN THE WATER” - DEEPER THAN SHE APPEARS

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Fans of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan are in for a surprise with his latest film, Lady In the Water. But, it won’t be as a result of his trademark twist ending that audiences have come to expect from his past movies. The surprise is that there is no shocking gotcha at the end. Shyamalan has shifted gears and although different from his usual bill of fare, the culmination should leave most with the experience of a satisfying ride by way of the writer’s incredible imagination. It may take a while, but if you let it brew in your mind, you will realize that the filmmaker did not abandon his fans. He still executes some unexpected twists, but they take the form of characters and how they fit into the enigmatic puzzle.

Forget about the misleading trailers that make it look like a horror film. There are mysterious creatures and a few jump out of your seat moments, but at the core is an original bedtime fairy tale that is a mixture of thriller, comedy and drama based on a story the writer conceived for his own children. As a creative genius, not only does he give us an engrossing fantasy, it also comes with a message filled with hope that is relevant to our times considering the present political and social world climate. Many can find some fault with this film since it is by no means perfect. There are plenty of unanswered questions. But let’s take it for what it is, clear from the opening voice over narration, which lays the groundwork that this is, a fairy tale, two key words. So audiences need to suspend belief and let the inner child awaken to accept at face value what’s played. The one fault is with Bryce Dallas Howard who made an impressive debut in The Village. As the title character of the Lady in the Water all she does is stare, or look like she is in a state of shock whether standing half naked in an oversized shirt, or sitting wet in a shower stall. I kept hoping for more from her and it wasn’t there.

The shining star is always brilliant Paul Giamatti, cast as an emotionally wounded, stuttering superintendent of a Philadelphia apartment complex called The Cove, a man with a tragic secret who finds himself leading a mission to help a sea nymph he discovered in the swimming pool get back to her home called the Blue World. Although she looks human, the water lady says she is a narf named Story, and that she has been sent for a reason, to find a chosen human and give him an awakening message. However, she cannot return until her quest has been fulfilled and obstacles are overcome. Hidden and waiting in the recesses of the surrounding grass are red-eyed wolf like creatures with matted fur called scrunts eager to stop her before the great Eatlon, a giant Eagle will arrive and take her back home. That’s where other tenants must also come to her aid. Asian apartment dweller Mrs. Choi (June Kyoko Lu), doesn’t speak English but her sassy daughter Soon (Cindy Cheung) translates for her mother who relays an old bedtime story from Asian folklore that tells of a sea creature called a “narf” that seem to be playing out before his eyes. Based on clues from the story, Heep takes it upon himself to gather up an ethnically diverse group of tenants that unknowingly possess powers that will enable them to protect Story and lead her back home. Eventually, which ones possess the gift of healer, guardian, interpreter, guild or witness will be revealed.

Tenants who somehow fit into the picture are a black man (Jeffrey Wright) who is a crossword puzzle enthusiast and his cereal obsessed son, an Indian writer (Shyamalan) and his sister (Sarita Choudhury), a Mexican with five daughters, a recluse (Bill Irwin) glued to his TV, a group of lounging chain smokers, a cat lover (Mary Beth Hurt), Reggie (Freddie Rodriguez) the body builder (Freddie Rodriguez) who only works out his right arm, and an aging Jewish couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bubchik (Tom Mardirosian, Tovah Feldshuh). Shyamalan uses this vehicle for a chance to poke fun and ridicule film critics by including an arrogant character into the mix, new tenant and local film critic Mr. Farber (Bob Balaban), who thinks he knows all the possible plot and character formulas but when push comes to shove he knows zip. Bashing reviewers doesn’t exactly score the filmmaker any points, but it is obvious Shyamalan doesn’t care.

I can see how some fellow critics view M. Night’s latest piece of work as self indulgent since he has cast himself, not in a usual cameo role, but as a pivotal player with greatness in his future that could be taken as notions of a messiah complex. And, he thinks critics believe they are G-ds? How ironic!

I, for one, started out with mixed feelings, finding myself being too analytical about the stuff that didn’t make sense. But, like I said earlier, this is a fairy tale that requires you to believe and accept the nonsensical made up, fantasy pieces of the story. Did we ever have trouble with Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella or for that matter Spielberg’s E.T., another alien being who needed help returning home?

Once again M. Night comes through as a masterful storyteller. He pushes the envelope by taking a risk with a totally different and unique experience. So while the critic in me is somewhat angry at his blatant attack on us (critics) as a whole, I have to say the child in me was totally absorbed in the magical tale and its wonderful message of finding one’s purpose. Hey, maybe this is mine. Ignore the negative reviews and enjoy it for what its worth.