Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Take - The Lady in the Water

My Take on the Movies
A Mini-Review of
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

The Lady in the Water (2006) stars Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man - 2005) as Cleveland Heep, the superintendent of a rather large apartment complex in which dwell some of the strangest characters known to mankind. Not the least of these strange characters is the title character herself, the ephemeral (and childlike) Lady, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village - 2004). Oddly, but not surprisingly, The Lady and The Village bear some similarities in texture, owing to the fact that they are both written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan also plays a role in this film, as a writer-prophet with whom the Lady connects.

The Lady appears to be a weird take-off on children’s fairytales or bedtime stories. The nature of the film brings home the innate scariness of many of the tales we tell our young children, while simultaneously wondering why they are afraid of the dark. It is billed as a drama-thriller-mystery with elements of fantasy. Fantastic is exactly the word for it.

The confusing plot centers around an ancient and all but forgotten tale of a sea nymph who comes to land once in a generation, allegedly to teach us land creatures something we have forgotten. The mystery and excitement comes in when the nymph, Story, attempts to return to her origins. Strangely enough for a water creature, her “rescuer” is not a creature of the sea, but of the air. As in any fairytale (and in real life), each character has a specific role in the story; the challenge is to discover what the role of each character is. It seems the roles change from minute to minute; still it takes an inordinate amount of time for the most obvious roles to disclose themselves.

The cast includes Jeffrey Wright (Lackawanna Blues - 2005) as Mr. Dury and Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids) as his son. It also includes Sarita Choudhury (Mississippi Masala - 1991), Mary Beth Hurt (The Exorcism of Emily Rose - 2005), Bob Balaban (Capote - 2005), and Cindy Cheung (Law and Order: Criminal Intent).

I did not really care for this film, and several people in the theater were making fun of it by the end. There were some humorous moments, but the total effect was of a conglomeration of incongruous parts making up the whole. The previews were somewhat deceptive, and the audience who likes mystery dramas is perhaps not the optimal audience for a film of this sort. I am not quite sure what the demographic of the intended audience would be. Although it is based on a fairytale, it is certainly not for children. I would advise that you skip this one, altogether. [1:50]

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[© 07/22/2006]


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