Monday, 20 August 2007

Lady In The Water

I've been mulling over whether to include this as a grenade or not, and I've realised today that I have no choice.

Lady In The Water is fundamentally really, genuinely not very good at all.

I'll tell you why I was in two minds though; like all of Shyamalan's movies, it's just so fucking sincere. With all his films so far, if you can buy into the premise, it's nearly always an interesting ride. Not always great, sometimes not even good, but usually interesting. And I am a fan of his. Unbreakable is one of my favourite films, it's incredibly good. It may even be in my top five. Signs is excellent, especially the second time when you can watch with emotional distance and see how damn funny it is.

But Lady In The Water… Not so good.

The plot's kind of tricky. This chap (Paul Giamatti) is working as a caretaker in an apartment complex. He's nice. A lady appears in the swimming pool, seemingly from nowhere. He takes her in. She's chased by a bad wolfy-grass beast.

Did I say it was tricky?

Okay, water nymph lady (as it turns out) is there to fulfill some destiny malarkey; different people in the complex will play different roles as she seeks the person she will inspire. Luckily, as this is all from some ancient Chinese folk story, there is an ancient Chinese woman in the complex.

Christ, now I'm writing the plot down, I can't think for the life of me as to why I was in two minds about this GRENADE!

Anyway, a giant eagle is to collect the nymph and take her home as she's a special, special nymph, and the people in the complex have to help her do that safely. (and you thought the synopsis couldn't get any worse)

The assorted characters are fine, and all well played, with particular nods to Giamatti, who is probably the main reason I was undecided about this, and M Night Shyamalan, who I thought was also pretty good in his role.

The problem is that it's just hard to care about the nymph. A giant fucking eagle? A wolfy thing made of grass that looks like it's actually made of Lego when you actually see it? Too many contrivances make you feel manipulated, and this fucker is packed with them. It's too neat, too pat, and yes, too damn contrived.

Best thing about this film is the guy who is experimenting by only bodybuilding one side of his body. He's great. But even his role is telegraphed from distance, if you know your movie devices. He crops up early on, then just about disappears; the rest of the cast have similar introductions but stick around. So you know he's coming back for something significant, and as soon as that thought clicks, it's a short step to figure out what that role is.

All in all, annoying, without charm, with some damn good performances that can't save what is, ultimately, a big pile of old wank.


B.E. Earl said...

I love all of Shalamalamadingdong's films, but I haven't seen Lady in the Water yet.

badgerdaddy said...

I don't think you'll love this one, Earl. I may be wrong.

gimme a minute said...

I'm also a huge Night fan, Unbreakable is in my top five for sure, but I avoided this on the basis of the overwhelmingly negative reviews. Didn't wanted to be upset by its horribleness. In fact, Badgerdaddy, yours is the most forgiving one I've read.

Only saw 'Signs' the once, didn't like it too much. Will give it a second go on now, I think.

badgerdaddy said...

Same here for Unbreakable, Gimme - loved it, really special film. I think it would have been appreciated far more if it had come before Sixth Sense though, I think too much was expected of it after that, and it's so different.

And Signs - totally different on second viewing, hope you enjoyed it!

elizabeth said...

I don't know. I want to like this movie. I really do.

B.E. Earl said...

I recently saw it, post-badgerdaddy review, and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than he did.

That being said, it wasn't very good at all. Crap storyline with a very easy to foresee ending.

It won't kill you, but you would be better off sleeping for two hours than watching it.