As a creative, you can certainly feel the paradoxical pain of putting yourself out there, to brace yourself for the criticisms and rejection. It is certainly not pleasant but if you have a story, to tell, then it is your passion, nay your duty to shepherd it through the harsh landscape. In 2006, distinctive filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan, took that statement almost literally in his next film, building on that allegory to reflect on his struggles, call out his detractors, and tell a story, in Lady In The Water.
Cleveland Heep works a job as an apartment supervisor, taking the position after his wife and child were murdered. It’s an o.k. job with a diverse clientele. All that changes when he spots a lady using the pool. After protecting her from a vicious animal, learns that she is a Narf from the ethereal Blue World. Plagued by murderous Scrunts who want to stop her from getting home. She speaks vaguely of a prophecy, that should help her return. In attempting to decipher the clues, Heep must assemble a team best suited to these mysterious roles from the residents of the complex. In finding the right crew, Story’s magic will change the residents’ lives and possibly the world.
For Story to return home, she needs to congregate a Dungeons and Dragons party from the complex’s residents. Initially, a Vessel, or writer, who will be inspired by her (Story’s main reason for visiting Earth). Heap encounters Soon Young who acts as a translator to her mother’s tales that share a lot of simultaneities to these legends. Heap and co. must find: A guardian, a guild, and a healer, each from a host of interpretive possibilities of the residents. Outside the inventive terms for the legendary roles, Shyamalan shows off his knack for storytelling with the Blue World and its residents. The grass-like attack dogs, the Scrunts, seem like a good natural opponent for the water-based Narfs. Also equates to a nice touch of magical realism that the early 2000s were particularly known for.
Shyamalan keeps up his hallmark for appearing in his work, as a dissident writer, Vick Ram, whose words will inspire great people across the world (and ultimately lead to his assassination). Along with a film critic whose penchant for clichés may provide more of a threat to Story. Making the story (not Story as in the Narf, but the film’s plot) makes Lady in the Water feel a tad more personal than most films. Shyamalan gathers an assortment of talent to help tell his tale. From Bob Balaban in the aforementioned role as the critic, with Paul Giamatti (after his wine-tasting trip, in Sideways) in the lead as Heap and Bryce Dallas Howard portrays the Narf, Story. Along with the likes of Jeffrey Wright, and Freddy Rodriguez among other impressive talents.
Lady in the Water is a personal tale shared with the world, full of intriguing characters played by well-known names. You cannot deny the amount of story-telling and craft that is on display here, with well-realised creations and imaginative ideas aplenty. As someone who likes to champion the storyteller, it would have been a pleasure to say that the Studio’s investment paid dividends. Instead, Lady in the Water remains a controversial film in Shyamalan’s collection, it is different but is anything but shallow.
If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!