Leveling with Labels
Conventions Pt 2: The Art Show
August 2006; Water
Heraldry, Pt 4: Charges
Lady in the WaterMovie Review
by Georgette Tan
Movie: Lady in the Water
Genre: Fantasy / Mystery / Thriller
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Cindy Cheung, M. Night Shyamalan.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan is known for that trademark plot twist at the end of his movies, so you won't be blamed for going to see Lady in the Water expecting one. There's my hint already... don't expect a twist. There isn't one. This is as straightforward as you can play a story.
Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is a building superintendant with a rather pronounced stutter. In trying to catch the person who is swimming in the pool after hours, he discovers a mysterious young lady. Her name is Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), and she doesn't make any sense to Cleveland until he asks around and puts together that she is some kind of sea nymph called a Narf.
A Narf's role is what I would describe as similar to what creative people call a muse, except a rung higher in the food chain. Story is looking for a writer whose book will change the world. He lives in the apartment building Cleveland is looking after.
Cleveland asks around as he moves through his day's work, finding out that there are a number of writers around. He also encounters a strange grass-covered wolflike creature outside that will stop at nothing to make sure Story never returns home.
The apartment complex is teeming with interesting characters, which are so well-written into the story that despite their short screen time, they are just as engaging as Story and Cleveland. More importantly, their presence didn't feel convenient to the story. They are perfectly ordinary, although offbeat people, living in an ordinary apartment block, before something completely extraordinary came out of the swimming pool and changed their lives.
Shyamalan plays more than just a cameo in this movie. Some might call the casting of himself in the role a tad on the narcissistic side, but the thought didn't occur to me at all. This is a very personal project after all, and since he can act, being the writer in question seems quite natural.
Oh, and this isn't a horror movie either, so those of you going in expecting it can just take your expectations and set them aside as well. There are a few shocks involved but the story generally falls into the dark fantasy niche.
I guess what made the movie feel special to me is that at the heart of it is a writer who struggles with what he has to say and is hounded by doubt. He is given a glimpse of what his book will do and the price he will have to pay, yet he quietly accepts his role in the bigger picture.
There is also a cynical movie critic in the movie, which is rather funny because sometimes, I get snarky like that too.
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