Thursday, August 03, 2006
Lady in the water
Terrible reviews have greeted M Night Shyamalan's latest outing, Lady in the Water. The local reviewer had problem with the premise of the story itself--a tale of narfs and scrunts--supposed to be an Eastern bedtime story that no one has heard in the East.
Shyamalan is a fantastic director, and I like some of his trademark story telling techniques, his camera placements, lighting, and cinematography techniques. And you have to agree that despite his penchant for casting himself in his own films, in roles however minor, he has given us some of the most original movies of our times. Though in his current film, he makes a character mock at the idea of orginiality in films. The character, a film and art critic, the only human character in the entire film that gets killed, says at one point: There is no orgininality left in the movies. Quite true. And Shyamalan's successful portrayal (in the act of the critic's killing) of what he thinks of the critics.
To begin with, I never liked the poster of this Shayamalan film: it is mysterous but in a scary way. I think the poster communicates a different kind of message to the potential viewers, and I will not be surprised if this film does not do particularly well at the box office.
The film opens with a message: We must return to good, we must stop being bad, and the mythic characters like the narfs are here to help us.
There are two things that make this film different, at least from the point of view of Shyamalan's earlier films. The first is casting Paul Giamatti who is brilliant in the film. In fact, one reason I went to see this film was Giamatti. I liked this actor in Sideways and since then I have been wanting to see more of him.
The second is Shyamalan's use of cinematographer Chris Doyle, who has a vast experience of working with Hong Kong auteur Wang Kar Wai. There are many departures from his trademark shots taking and the visual narrative style. The result is an interesting change. The pace of the film, the shots, the camera movements are in alliance with the theme of the film which is basically a retelling of a simple story that we are supposed to believe in.
Initially, Shyamalan was supposed to do this film for Disney but reportedly Disney did not see any potential in this film. Shyamalan hitched his wagon to Warner Brothers. Critics have already panned this film, and some have even declared Shayamalan a spent force. I think Shyamalan's time is not up yet and he will keep surprising us.