Friday, August 04, 2006

Lady In The Water

(also reviewed by rob)

cast: paul giamatti, bryce dallas howard
written, produced and directed by: m. night shyamalan

unlike m. night shyamalan’s 4 previous films (“the sixth sense”, “unbreakable”, “signs” and “the village”) where the movie begins in deep mystery enticing the viewer to figure out the solution to the riddle, “lady in the water” starts off with the story of the “sea-people” and their relationship to the “land-people”, and thus leading the viewer to believe that there is no puzzle to be solved this time around.

i applaud this tactic from m. night as it shows his unparalleled talent in misdirecting viewers in different and unpredictable ways. in “lady in the water”, he uses the style of showing all his cards from the get-go, but unknowingly to the unassuming viewer, he carries an ace up his sleeve.

the movie begins with a fairy tale/legend that retells the history of mankind. how all people used to be sea-creatures who were always at peace with each other. how, when people started living on land, they became materialistic and wanted to own more and more land as well as other earthly possessions. how the desire to possess more land and materialism in general has been the cause of much strife and numerous wars. and how through the years, people of the land have forgotten their peaceful beginnings at sea.

though these land-dwellers (this means us mortal people) have been completely oblivious to the sea-dwellers and their world, the people of the sea have always kept a watchful eye on us, and once in a while, they even send a special messenger who would enlighten us and in so doing help alleviate us from the miserable state we have brought ourselves into. but the messenger is sometimes stranded on land as monstrous animals prevent him/her from returning to sea.

and thus we find bryce dallas howard (the messenger) fearing for her life as a renegade animal (who does not abide by fairy tale rules) denies her a safe homeward journey. but bryce is not without help as fairy tale lore declares that the messenger has a “healer”, a “guardian”, and an “interpreter” among the land-dwellers. there also exists a “writer”, a “group of sisters”, a “group of people who talk about important things”, “the man who has no secrets”, and “the man who’s opinion is respected”.

but as to who is who and which is which is another matter. paul giamatti then tries to figure out who among his neighbors serves the purpose of healer, guardian, interpreter, etc. i think paul giamatti’s effort of finding out which among the people living in the apartment/condominium he is caretaker of satisfies the requirements for each character (or group of characters) is director m. night shyamalan’s subtle and ingenious way of telling us both the difficulty and importance of finding one’s purpose in life.

personally, i think there is no one generic way of finding our purpose. also, that each individual after fulfilling his purpose moves on in search of his next purpose. much like a writer after completing his story moves on to contemplate his next tale. or the way a movie director after finishing his current motion picture begins to think about his next project.

what i’m saying is man’s search for purpose can sometimes be a continuous process. at the same time, it is through the aid of this purpose that man can find meaning in his everyday existence. on the other hand, i may just be a misguided “interpreter” who likes to take things out of context ……

rating: 5 of 5 stars * * * * *
may turn out to be the most underrated movie of the year.


rob said...

Yes, I like how Shyamalan applies misdirection in all his movies - making you think it's about one thing, then it turns out to be an altogether different film. This also leads to his unpopularity with moviegoers expecting something and not getting what they want. But this is precisely what makes him a great filmmaker.

Darn, I wanted to be the interpreter too, hehehe. Then again, you do remind me of the crossword guy (yes, yes I know he wasn't really the interpreter, just humor me). Or maybe Tyrone 'The Chessman' could be the interpreter.

rmacapobre said...

who was the guy who mislead the healer? he was funny ..