Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I loved Lady in The Water. Just hear me out.

As some of my more faithful blog subscribers will remember, I defended M. Night Shyamalan when his much-maligned film, Lady in The Water, came out over the summer. Thanks to the good people at Time Warner Cable, I got to see the movie in the privacy of my own home without having to endure the judgment of video store employees. Did I like it? No.
I loved it!!

Are you still reading? Good. I am still in full possession of my reasoning and taste, so I understand why some people would have trouble sitting through this movie. It is a fantasy film with mystical creatures, and it has a very childlike tone to it (the story is taken from one that Shyamalan tells his kids at bedtime). Because of films like Lord of the Rings, fantasy films have found a huge modern audience, but Lady in the Water is fairly different from other fantasy fare. The movie's primary characters are a young female narf (sea nymph) and a middle-aged handyman (Paul Giamatti, in an un-nymph-like performance), which apparently isn't nearly as cool as a movie about two hobbits that secretly love each other. The gender differences are worth mentioning, though. Lady in the Water has several significant women's roles, while female characters in other fantasy films are often relegated to being the love interest. Nothing against Liv Tyler--I'm just saying.

Another significant difference between Shyamalan's film and more popular fantasy films is the lack of emphasis on special effects. This, I believe, is where the director lost a lot of people (especially critics). Some of the creatures look a little cheesy, but they are seen only briefly. This actually reminded me of Jaws, which relied on characters' fears of the shark to instill fear in the audience, as opposed to the shark's actual appearance. Here the characters' dialogue is used as a form of storytelling in order to guide the viewers' reactions. So while The Tartutic didn't hold a candle to the Balrog of Morgoth, they got the job done.

The best way to approach Lady in the Water is with the belief and fascination of a child. This movie is not a Sixth Sense-type thriller written for cynical adults. While it is not action-packed, some amazing things happen. The dialogue is simple, but the complete story is beautiful and dreamlike. By no means would I recommend this film to everyone I know, but I think a lot of people are capable of appreciating it on its own level. I certainly plan on watching it again.

Speaking of movies, the movie I'm "Currently Watching" (see MySpace blog), Idiocracy, is excellent. It's made by Mike Judge, the man who made Office Space, but uses a very different kind of humor from that movie. Watch it when you're in a weird mood and willing to laugh at phrases like "your shit's all retarded."

Also, remember that Lost is starting February 7th, and I will be posting regular recaps and blogs for TV Squad (http://www.tvsquad.com/bloggers/erin-martell).