Lady in the Water (2006)

For me, this was the movie I looked forward to watching all of last year. I even blogged about looking forward to it. M. Night Shyamalan's two previous films, Signs and The Village are among my all time favorites. I know many people hated them because they don't truly fit into the thriller or horror categories. For me, it is the manner in which he tackles certain subjects and portrays them as fairy tales or parables. In the case of Signs it was about faith. In the case of The Village, it was about pain. This time around it was about two things: Hope and Story.

The philosophy behind story is that this is not the real world, but it is a reflection of what is real in the spiritual sense- like the shadows in the cave for Plato. To help us understand what is real, we need stories - hence the Bible and other writings, books, movies, oral traditions... Lady in the Water is about a story coming alive, in fact the water nymph the film is titled after is named Story. The characters in the film are challenged to believe that the story is real and commit to action.

This is a part that for me seems more far-fetched than the fact that there exist water nymphs: The characters buy into it so quickly and easily. I wish there were another 15 minutes of the struggle to believe. For me that is an integral part, and in this film it's missing.

The hope presented comes from Story and believing in something greater than yourself, but also believing in the purpose of each individual. There is a beautiful scene at the end of the movie where the major players join together to accomplish something and hope spills over the top. This scene is very emotional and inspiring - and quite spiritual in its imagery.

That said, the critics hated the film. They tore it apart. They also tore Signs and The Village apart. Their reason is that Shyamalan has decided in these last few films to completely go it alone, made some enemies in the process and attempted to glorify himself in the process. Personally, I enjoy his films, but I don't enjoy his acting or his public personality. In order to truly enjoy his films, you must separate him from them and also go in buying everything you're fed, otherwise your cynicism will kick in and you won't enjoy it.

I look forward to seeing The Happening in 2008.

Official Site | IMDB

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