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Shyamalan: Wet Appetite

For me, no other film maker manages to foster a sense of anticipation over the impending release of one of their movies like M.Night Shyamalan does. I’ve loved all of his movies so far and expect his usual level of artistry and attention to detail in his latest film, Lady in the Water.

Lady in the Water stars Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep, the caretaker of a small, nondescript apartment complex. Heep’s life is irrevocably changed one night when he discovers a mysterious woman hiding in the passageways that run under the apartment complex’s swimming pool. The woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a ‘narf’ (a nymph like character) from an epic bedtime story, who is attempting to return to her own world but is being prevented by vicious creatures.

While most people seem to rate The Sixth Sense as Shyamalan’s best work to date, for me it’s Unbreakable. Ask me any time of the day or night what my favorite album/song, or food, or colour is, or who my favorite member of the cast of Happy Days was and you’ll get a different answer each time. But ask me what my all time favorite movie is and, chances are, my reply will be Unbreakable.

Most of the complaints I’ve heard leveled at Unbreakable center around the perception that the twist is obvious or that the pace is too slow and, while I believe in peace and good will to all, the people who say those things should all DIE and burn in the fiery pit of damnation! Or at least learn to appreciate explosion-less films better.

There is no twist in Unbreakable! A twist implies that we’ve been lead astray somehow, but this isn’t the case. If there’s one constant in the diverse films that Shyamalan has crafted it’s that they focus on character; Samuel (Mr Glass) reveals his identity when the character has reached an understanding of his place in the world, a goal he only achieves by helping Bruce (David Dunn) reach an understanding of HIS place. On the surface the movie may appear to be slow, however Shyamalan tells the story of Dunn coming to terms with his gifts (and how his rejection of them has shaped his life to date) with fine brush strokes. He draws out of Bruce Willis possibly his finest performance to date and managed to deliver THE finest ‘origin’ story yet… IMO.

As a fan of his film making style I have great hopes and little doubt that Shyamalan will apply similarly fine brush strokes to the characters in Lady in the Water and produce the same kind of emotionally engaging movie going experience as his previous offerings.

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