The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Village

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Judy Thorburn

The Village

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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

“THE VILLAGE” – I SEE BORING PEOPLE

First there were those teaser movie clips, commonly known as trailers to perk our interest.  Next came newspaper and magazine articles, TV talk show interviews with director/writer M. Night Shyamalan, a three-hour fake documentary on the Sci Fi channel called “The Buried Secrets of M. Night Shyamalan”, and even an exclusive remote interview with the director, telecast live by satellite from N. Y. to audiences at forty one select Regal Entertainment Group movie theatres.   These were all part of a very clever marketing campaign to get movie goers all charged up about The Village, the latest movie by the inventive and talented filmmaker, who many are hailing as this generation’s most brilliant, visionary director with comparisons to Spielberg and Hitchcock, that other master of suspense. There was so much buzz surrounding this new film that even I, who was very anxious to see it, was beginning to get suspicious as to why it merited such a heavy promotion.

Ever since Shyamalan’s awesome blockbuster The Sixth Sense, fans have been eagerly awaiting his next feature with baited breath, dying to know if he can match that accomplishment.   He broke new ground with “The Sixth Sense”, delivering a distinct brand of storytelling punctuated by a surprise twist ending you didn’t see coming. It became his trademark “hook” evident in his follow up, “Unbreakable” and his last film “Signs”. Unfortunately, each was less rewarding than the one before.  Unbreakable was a good effort, not great.  And, Signs went down another notch with a suspenseful, yet disappointing storyline.  So, I was hoping The Village would not be another move on that downward slide.

What a bummer! The Village winds up being his worst effort yet.

The setting for the story is an isolated village in 19th century rural Pennsylvania, where the puritanical inhabitants live in fear of the dangerous porcupine-like creatures that reside in the woods beyond their borders. Led by elder Edward Walker (William Hurt) their strict set of rules and regulations have made it possible to co-exist peacefully away from “those we do not speak of” as long as no one dares to step beyond the boundary, nor allows anything of the color red to be visible. That’s a definite no no which can threaten the villagers’ very existence.  But, when quiet, thoughtful soul Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) decides to venture out beyond the limits, he sets in motion a series of events that would open up a can of worms and potentially reveal the secrets that lie deep within this close-knit community.

Newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard  (Ron’s daughter) makes a stunning feature film debut as Edward’s daughter Ivy, the lovely young blind woman who is brave enough to go through the woods to get medicine for her beloved Lucius after he has a silent, almost deadly, confrontation with the mentally impaired, Noah Percy (Oscar winner Adrian Brody). Although she delivers an emotionally strong performance, the blindness doesn’t ring true.  At times Bryce looks directly at what, and whoever, is in front of her.

To give much more away would be a spoiler. But, suffice it to say that I saw the “surprise twist” almost from the start.  It was no shock for me, and I would assume for most audiences with half a brain. Shyamalan has basically written a love story (inspired by his interest in the “Wuthering Heights” love triangle) within a script ripe with social, religious and political implications that are very timely, considering the aftermath of 9/11.  Those subjects are worth a better premise from which to be derived.

As part of his usual formula, plot elements depend on unseen supernatural forces or the beliefs that drive the characters.  The problem is that although he has gathered together an impressive ensemble cast that includes Sigourney Weaver as Lucius’ mom, the actors for the most part play dull and boring characters.  I was waiting for that unprepared shock from left field, and boy, was I disappointed since it never came.  Not to say that this is a total disaster. The mood and dark setting instills a fitting sense of discomfort, and I like Roger Deakin’s fine cinematography.

I just want to be blown away again like I was when I saw “The Sixth Sense”, one of my all time favorite films. It left me mesmerized, in awe, and was a subject of discussion for a long time.  Shyamalan hasn’t lost it as a director. But as a storyteller, I feel set up and let down by my trip to The Village. But, just like the characters he creates, I still have faith, and hope he will be back on track soon with another brilliant project before Night falls.