M. Night Shyamalan is a funny director. First, there were the hit hits “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”. Then more mixed films with in 2002 “Signs”, then “The Village” two years later. Critics were quick to label it as the new Steven Spielberg (one of his references), even his natural successor (which seems a little disproportionate to me). How is this “Lady in The Water” positioned?
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy. When you spend a certain amount of time in hospitals, it’s a literary and filmic genre perfect for changing your mind.
One thing I love all the more about fantasy is when it steps into the “normal” world and what is more normal than a stuttering janitor by the name of Cleveland in an apartment complex ?
The normal man :
Paul Giamatti ideally sticks to this ordinary guy, rather withdrawn, without particular intelligence. His daily life is just a string of uninteresting odd jobs: repairing a washing machine, exterminating a pest in a kitchen, changing defective bulbs … these mini-scenes camp, often with a lot of humor, the profile of the hero who still ignores himself and reveals a gallery of rather colorful tenants.
What I like most about this film are the themes it addresses:
- Who are we beyond appearances?
- Who are we, once the mask of social conventions has been removed?
- What unexpected forces are sleeping in us?
- What do we know about ourselves?
And his characters of a great banality at first glance but who will know their importance:
- A little boy who reads the cereal boxes,
- a group of friends who remade the world around a beer,
- an old lady who attracts butterflies …
the sketched portraits seem to go away, before delivering an almost cosmic meaning to the film.
The disturbing strangeness :
That a red-haired nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard <3) is frolicking in the complex’s swimming pool, looking for a human with whom she must communicate before she can return to her blue world, does not seem to surprise our discreet concierge . Or how a Chinese legend for children is anchored in the reality of a world of adults who buried his childhood.
The nymph must be saved from the clutches of a dark creature, half warthog half wolf with long spiky hairs and ferocious rumbles. Yes, it is disturbing. Yes, it is scary. As were the aliens in “Signs”, the ghosts in “The Sixth Sense”. Make no mistake, evil lurks everywhere, every moment. Let us remain vigilant, let us wake up, let us unite.
Obviously, the cocktail works only if one implicitly accepts the postulate of the legend which takes life and body, which one lets oneself carry by the irrational. The tilting is done very smoothly, almost imperceptibly. We feel irresistibly drawn. In turn poetic, fantastic, nightmarish, “The Lady in The Water” proves, if need be, that Mr. Night Shyamalan is a truly original filmmaker, endowed with a certain talent for narration and an intriguing vision of world. Qualities all the more appreciable as they are hardly legion in the Hollywood microcosm.
It may be because I saw this film as a child but I like it a lot. It is a lovely tale that makes our imagination work, in search of the smallest element that can make us think that our reality may contain a hint of magic.
In doing my research, I realized that the reviews were really bad. However, seeing the film recently I do not have the impression that it is justified. If you have a different opinion I will be happy that you share it in the comments. As for the people who would have passed by, I can only advise you to see it, especially if you have kept a child’s soul.