Lady In The Water (2006)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 44%
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Ranked #1,557
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Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 26, 2006
This review is coming a little too late for most people, which I regret. By now, you've probably read countless reviews of how "Lady In the Water" is a terrible film, Shyamalan's over-indulgent masterpiece of wasted proportions. You've probably noticed the box office charts and how the film did not make nearly as much as originally anticipated. And, after next week, you'll probably be like most American movie-goers and forget all about the film until it makes a DVD release sometime later this year. This is truly a shame. "Lady In the Water" was a unique, spellbinding, and thoroughly compensating experience - the best time I have had at the movies all year long. The direction was incredible - M. Night Shyamalan is still a master and does not deserve the negative publicity he is receiving. The performances are genuine and strong. The story is so original and so compelling, it kept me riveted from the opening sequence until the absolutely perfect ending. This was not your typical Shyamalan picture, and I think that is what has been throwing most people for a loop. There is not a twist ending. There is not the trademark Shyamalan comparisons to Hitchcock, at least not in the same way as one would typically think. "Lady In the Water" is officially my favorite film of 2006 - an amazing cinematic experience - a truly great film.

In yet another stellar performance, Paul Giamatti stars as Cleveland Heep, the superintendent of an apartment complex called The Cove, where the inhabitants are just as strange as the creatures that live in 'the Blue World' underneath the pool outside. Heep has been hearing strange splashing at night, and is eventually rescued by a young girl who is 'not quite human'. Two of the tenants in the building begin telling Heep the story of the 'narfs' and how they are allowed to come out of their world in order to find a chosen person whom they might change. But, there is also danger from wolf-like creatures that are sworn to destroy the narfs before they can return. Shyamalan's film is very much a bedtime story that unfolds throughout the entire film. The girl explains that there are humans with special powers who don't know they have special powers who are placed in the location the narf finds in order to protect her. Heep goes throughout the building trying to locate these individuals. Bob Balaban stars as a film critic who has just moved to The Cove; Jeffrey Wright as a man obsessed with crossword puzzles; M. Night Shyamalan as an author who is writing a book of great importance; and, Bryce Dallas Howard as 'the lady in the water'.

Apologies to everyone if that plot analysis is somewhat confusing. I want it to be. You need to see the film for yourself and let everything unfold as it did for me. "Lady In the Water" is filled with so many scenes of beauty and elegance - so many scenes where the actors take these characters and run with them. For example, watch Giamatti and Howard during their scenes together. Watch how Giamatti's character reacts during those scenes, to this young girl who is in his home. When we find out the truth about Giamatti's character, watching the film again only does what Shyamalan does best, and that's foreshadow without anyone ever knowing he is foreshadowing. "The Sixth Sense" was the perfect example of this technique, and all of his films carry that, including this one, though the traditional twist ending is not in play here. And, though very dark, this is not far from a family film. The picture is a bedtime story, and kids will likely respond to it. It will not captivate their attention like a Pixar film, but it will definitely give them something to think about, and sometimes that is far better than mindless eye candy. If not, tell them a mean critic made them see it.

As mentioned earlier, the performances here are stronger than in any previous Shyamalan film. Paul Giamatti steals the show as Cleveland Heep, a character with such depth and complexity - all of which Giamatti nails to perfection. He is the best actor in Hollywood today. Bryce Dallas Howard gives yet another impressive performance as Story, demonstrating both her vulnerability and her ability to carry undivided attention whilst on screen. The supporting characters are flawlessly cast, from Jeffrey Wright to Bob Balaban to Bill Irwin to Freddy Rodriguez as a bodybuilder who has chosen to only work out one side of his body. Shyamalan is always able to extract top notch performances from his actors, and he has done something truly special here.

It bares repeating - "Lady In the Water" is the best film of 2006. It is now my favorite M. Night Shyamalan film. Comparisons to Steven Spielberg might seem a little much, but I see where those comparisons come from and I am in total agreement. Both Shyamalan and Spielberg are storytellers above all else, and that comes across in each and every one of their films. It's such a shame that this film is going to suffer the same fate as all those other films from years past that don't make the money they deserve because of the negativity poured out by the press. Rex Reed's recent review tore this film apart and essentially called it one of the worst films ever made. If that is all Rex Reed took from this film, it makes me wonder why Americans have been tolerating his opinion for so long. You'll have to see this film for yourself and make your own decision. I will see it again...and again...and again...buy it on DVD...and watch it for years and years to come.

Ginose #1: Ginose - added December 21, 2006 at 12:15am
Boooooooooooooooooooring... Shyamalan managed to put me asleep AGAIN! HOW!? The trailers looked awesome! The reviews were great! Even all of my freinds (all of which caught it in theatres about a week before me) loved it! Fantastic reviews all around! I watched it for 30 minutes fell asleep for 15 and woke up when a loud noise made the guy behind me squeal like a woman. Pretty good story.. so-so direction... but... you know what? It was about as exciting as "Signs"... except this one didn't even have any aliens. I know I'm about to get 4 or 5 "you're an idiot" replies... but so the fuck what? 2.2/10
BuryMeAlive #2: BuryMeAlive - added June 24, 2007 at 3:04am
I agree, this movie was a total bore.There was no build up, and the only thing holding it up is the comedy.
AttnDefDis #3: AttnDefDis - added July 20, 2009 at 11:10am
Yeah, the only upside were the Cibo Matto songs.
Lucid Dreams #4: Lucid Dreams - added September 27, 2010 at 1:48pm
I thought this was just an average film. I didn't love it or hate, I enjoyed some of it and I doubt I'll watch it again. 5/10
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