Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

byColey Smithey & r & & r & Lady in the Water & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & pologists for M. Night Shyamalan have their work cut out defending yet another cinematic killjoy from the "auteur" whose high box office receipts do not reflect the ineptitude of his filmmaking skills. Inflated from an impromptu "bedtime story" that Shyamalan invented for his children, Lady in the Water is a hackneyed story about a water nymph inappropriately named "Story" (Bryce Dallas Howard) who resides at the bottom of an apartment complex swimming pool. Paul Giamatti is Cleveland Heep, a stuttering superintendent who discovers the sprite, or "narf" as she's called, and protects her until he can wrench enough exposition from his underemployed neighbors to send Story back to her "Blue World" home via an eagle. Standing in their way is a red-eyed hyena creature called a "scrunt" that roams the compound attempting to kill Story. The pun is intrinsic. Voice-over narration informs us that the narf has the potential to save humanity from capitalism if the humans around her merely glimpse her naked nymph form.


It's fitting that Shyamalan intended Lady in the Water as a bedtime story, because no matter how awake you are before you watch the movie, it will put you right to sleep. Shyamalan uses so much clunky exposition that there is hardly any forward-moving action. Shyamalan doesn't just break the "show-don't-tell" rule of screenwriting; he rejects the theorem as so much detritus.


Lady in the Water is a visual drone of muted colors embellished with a ham-fisted musical score by James Newton Howard (The Village). Newton isn't satisfied at only telling the audience what to feel with bombastic aural cues -- he wants to bulldoze the spectators into a corner and slap them around some. The effect is equally as deadening as Shyamalan's onerous attempt at story construction. The script screams pretentious affectation. Every time Cleveland calls out Story's name, it resembles Shyamalan's desperate cries for narrative help in filling out his movie.


If the film weren't already feeble enough, Shyamalan insists on upgrading his signature cameo performances in his own films to the level of featured supporting player. Shyamalan plays a novelist who lives with his "sister" in Cleveland's apartment complex. Forget that M. Night Shyamalan's acting skills couldn't get him cast in a high school production of Our Town. Watching a skilled acting craftsman like Paul Giamatti delivering lines to Shyamalan is like watching Robert Duvall discussing politics with his cat. It's the one thing in the movie that sent shivers down my spine.


Lady in the Water is nothing that it professes to be. Shyamalan calls it an "epic bedtime story" about a community of people drawn together to solve a series of riddles so as to save an angel and, consequently, humanity. There isn't anything on screen to connect Shyamalan's artificial Everyman characters to any lofty objective other than believing in artifice over reality. By the time the apartment complex tenants decode Cleveland's secondhand recounting of their duties in some convoluted myth or other, we realize none of it makes any sense. Even worse, we simply don't care about the story, or the characters, or any of it.


M. Night Shyamalan got incredibly lucky on his vastly overrated feature The Sixth Sense and has milked that unjustified success in four increasingly abysmal films: Unbreakable, Signs, The Village and now Lady in the Water. He has become the David Blaine of hack auteurs. And if David Blaine finds failure upsetting, I wonder how Shyamalan will face the day when his audience finally abandons him. (Rated PG-13)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Startup Weekend Spokane

Startup Weekend Spokane @ Spokane Community College

Sun., April 26, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation