DVD Review: Lady in the Water
By Jeff Swindoll Dec 19, 2006, 15:19 GMT
I enjoyed the fairytale and thought that M. Night created a fine story that will captivate those that give it a chance.
M. Night Shyamalan brings a fairytale to life in his latest movie.
Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is the sad, stuttering, shy handyman at an apartment complex called the Cove. There’s no swimming in the complex’s pool after 7pm, but somebody seems to be breaking that rule to Mr. Heep’s distress because it’s clogging the pool filter. One night he sees who has been swimming after hours as a woman emerges from the waters, grabs something off a chair, disappears beneath the water, and does not come back to the surface.
He dives into the pool to save her but cannot find a trace of her - in fact he starts to drown. When he wakes up the strange woman has saved him and taken him back to his bungalow. It turns out that the lady is a “narf,” or water nymph, named Story (Dallas Bryce Howard) that is living in the pool.
She turns to Cleveland for protection since a “scrunt,” think a vicious wolf made out of grass, it out to kill her before she can make it back to her home. Cleveland learns that there are individuals within the apartment complex that will be essential to getting Story back to her world. The problem is that Story doesn’t know who these individuals are and people who are to be involved do not know their roles either.
Lady in the Water is a film that captivated me. Now looking at the reviews, it appears that many other critics were not captivated and actually laid out a lot of hate for M. Night. It probably didn’t help that he has one character to be an annoying film critic [spoiler] that he has one of the “scrunts” kill. Could he be trying to say something about his critics? [/spoiler] He also probably didn’t help things by casting himself in a rather showy part as one of the tenants of the apartment complex.
Although the fairytale creatures have odd names like “narfs” (the first time Story says this I couldn’t help but think of Pinky and the Brain) and “scrunts,” I still found the story compelling. It’s my opinion that many of the critics that are hard on M. Night with this film were wanting him to fail or just didn’t get what he was trying to do with the fairytale aspects of the story.
The movie is a fairytale so it has some elements of fantasy to it. If you start to try and take it too seriously then you’ll probably end up hating it (as most critics seemed to do). I enjoyed the fairytale and thought that M. Night created a fine story that will captivate those that give it a chance. If you’re not willing to believe in fairytale logic, then you might not like the movie.
Lady in the Water is available in a fullscreen version as well as an anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) version that is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include the 5 minute “Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story” where M. Night talks about his children’s book that inspired the movie (along with illustrations by Crash McCreery). Next is the 34 minute “Reflections of Lady in the Water.”
You can use the “play all” function of watch each section separately. It has interviews with director/writer/producer/actor/head bottle washer M. Night Shyamalan, associate producer Jose L. Rodriguez, producer Sam Mercer, creature designer Crash McCreery, Bryce Dallas Howard, Paul Giamatti, 2nd unit director/storyboard artist Brick Mason, director of photography Christopher Doyle, production designer Martin Childs, production designer Jim Scaife, creature/makeup effects supervisor Mike Elizalde, spectral motion crew Mark Setrakian, compositioning supervisor Marshall Krasser, visual effects supervisor Edward Hirsch, digital artist Lana Lan, visual effects supervisor Kevin Barnhill, and composer James Newton Howard.
It also interviews actors (who play the various tenants of the Cove) Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Cindy Cheung, Mary Beth Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Irwin, Grant Monohon, Joseph D. Reitman, Ethan Cohn, John Boyd, and Jared Harris. Next are 2 minutes of “Auditions.”
What’s funny about this section is that the majority of the actors are auditioning for the part of “guy who vomits at party” and we get to see the lucky fellow who gets this plum role. That’s followed by a 3 minute “Gag Reel,” 5 minutes of deleted scenes, the teaser trailer, and the theatrical trailer.
Though most critics had bad things to say about it, I ended up liking Lady in the Water. Hopefully bad things will not happen to me now (you listening M. Night?). The movie is a fairytale and should be accepted as one. If you don’t try to read too much into it or take it too seriously, I think that you’ll like it too.