Lady in the Water

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Lady In The Water ---- Thought Provoking and Deeply Engaging (By M. Night Shyamalan)

Jul 23, 2006 (Updated Jul 24, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:depth of story, very interesting characters, risks that Shyamalan takes in story, thought provoking

Cons:absolutely none

The Bottom Line: In the world of film-making, this one is highly recommended due to its originality of ideas, depth of the main character, and enjoyment level.


It takes a really good Director in order to get away with movie trailers like the one that preceded the opening of Lady In The Water. It left too much to the imagination, and you were never really clear where the movie would be taking you. That left too much ambiguity for some potential viewers I am sure, but for me it kept me in the dark about some of the main plot devices that were going to be used. I must thank M. Night Shyamalan for doing this, because it let me go into the film with an open mind, rather than having expectations on exactly what to expect from the story. To be honest, I have become a huge fan because of the originality he brings to film, and with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village already under his belt, this was set to be his fifth major release. Lady In The Water won't be a film that brings him down like some critics had pined, but rather I think it insures that he won't be clumped in with all of the other film writers out there who think that the same drivel will attract new fans.

To explain the premise of this movie is not the easiest of things to undertake, but I will try to do so without giving away what I felt to be the best parts of the film. Paul Giamatti plays Cleveland Heep, a building superintendent for an apartment complex called The Cove. Located in Philadelphia, it must be an out-of-the way place, because it doesn't show all that much civilization outside of the complex, and almost appears as though the apartments are all by themselves. Only a subtle hint early on in the film lets us know that they actually are in Philadelphia. Cleveland is pretty good at what he does, and strives to keep all of the residents of the property happy with the services that he is providing. This puts him on a first name basis with everyone living there, and comes in handy as the film progresses. The character of Cleveland is slowly expounded upon as the film goes on, and it made me extremely happy with the depth that the writing allowed for him. We really got to know what made Cleveland tick, and exactly what type of a person he was. This helps us understand his characters motivations towards the end of the film, and was enacted perfectly.

One night Cleveland is getting ready to turn in, when he hears splashing in the pool outside, and goes to take a look. Clues have been left behind that someone is swimming in the water at night, but it isn't safe, and he wants to put a stop to it. Walking out, he catches a glimpse of someone in the water, and tries to get them out but fails. Through a twist of fait, he finds himself face to face with a girl that has been living in the water. She goes by the name of Story, and she will soon be relying on Cleveland to protect her from the dangers of our world. That is about all the plot revelation that I think is necessary to understand the premise of Lady In The Water, and any further explanation is only needed through a quick study of the characters in the movie. One such is Story, who is played by Ron Howard's daughter; Bryce Dallas Howard. Surprisingly to me, in only her second major role, she is brilliant as the innocent and seemingly naive Story. She plays the part perfectly, and I was quickly caught up in her plight, hoping that nothing would go wrong with her character. With Howard and Giamatti controlling the major acting roles, Lady In The Water does an exceptional job at providing a unique visions of a film, not polluted with themes we have seen a million times before.

From everything advertised about this film, it may fall prey to people's assumption that it is a horror film. Sure there are many potential scares, and there is the intent that the audience should fear what might happen to the characters, but this is by no means a horror film. Instead, it is one that is intent on showing new ground that films can take while sharing their stories. M. Night Shyamalan is a genius in my opinion, and I think that this film has cemented my attendance at the premiers of his next 10 films. One of the interesting parts of the film is that Shyamalan himself is an actor, taking on one of the residents within the apartment complex. I thought he did a really good job in the part, and conveyed exactly what was needed from the character. He also must be complimented for bringing on Giamatti as Cleveland, who has been moving his way up the list of some of the best actors in Hollywood right now. The trueness of his acting, coupled with the great writing of Shyamalan really takes this film to a wonderful level that will have me watching this film again very soon. The enjoyment level of the film includes a lot of humor thrown in the alleviate some of the darker moments, as well as many sub-plots that once viewed, can be thought about in many different contexts. This is what makes a film great, and in my opinion Shyamalan has just that with Lady In The Water; a highly recommended film.











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