Granted, I love M. Night Shyamalan’s films so far.
I thought his previous films were all excellent pieces of work. And I really anxiously anticipated the release of “Lady in the Water.”
But when I was done with it, I really wanted to throw him through a f*****g window.
A week previous to the film’s release, “Entertainment Weekly” released an excerpt of Shyamalan’s newest book which chronicles his tug of war with executives at Dreamworks who anxiously wanted him to retool “Lady,” and like every other writer, Shyamalan paints himself as the artist fighting for his work.
But then again, this is Shyamalan fighting for a really terrible piece of filmmaking. One that would have benefitted from retooling.
I was disappointed with “Lady in the Water.” Not only was it boring, one-dimensional, and bland, but it’s also Shyamalan’s most self-congratulatory piece of work to date.
Whether it’s the jabbing at film critics, or placing himself in the movie, the film just comes off as self-defeating, ridiculous, and the excerpts from the book come off as a bad omen. Shyamalan constantly muses about how he fought with these executives for the integrity of his film, and on how they never really understood what he was going for.
I’ve loved all of what he’s directed so far, but with “Lady” I could see what the executives were saying.
“Lady” is pretty bad, and that’s because Shyamalan is so obsessed with patting himself on the back, and he’s so in love with his own imagination, his film never binds together. So obsessed is he with creating lore and magic, that he never bothers to include engaging characters and an exciting climax. The film is pointless, even with all the talent in it.
Two of the biggest and most laughable caveats involve characters.
One of which is played by Bob Balaban, who is a tight knit obnoxious movie critic who always manages to point out a moment in his time compared to a movie. He’s not well liked and ignored in the building of oddities, and has no taste for them, either. Shyamalan, like Rob Zombie, anxiously tries to spoof the movie critic, and both fail miserably.
Zombie’s depiction of the movie critic was as this mustachioed spaz citing movie knowledge like a weapon, an irony since Zombie happens to also be a movie geek. Shyamalan’s own depiction of the movie critic is much more unbearable.
Balaban, a purposely unlikable character, dies so quickly and abruptly that no one ever draws notice to his sudden lack of presence. Shyamalan’s statement “One movie critic dies, and no one cares, because there are so many others to come,” is toppled by Shyamalan’s fall into the horror movie lapse of logic. A character dies, and suddenly he escapes the consciousness of everyone else.
Worst of all, before he’s killed by the grass beast, he turns around to the door, and points out how he’ll manage to escape only seconds before the beast runs after him, and he then proceeds to die a horrible death.
If this is the best Shyamalan can do to spoof his critics, well then he’s perhaps not as talented as I gave him credit for.
Because the message here is so obvious, so obligatory and so utterly forced, I literally wanted to know what his thought process was during this characters construction.
And worst of all, perhaps the most insane addition, is his own casting as an author.
There’s nothing wrong with directors casting themselves. Almost every director from geniuses like Hitchcock, to a*s munchers like Eli Roth, practice this method for sheer novelty, and because they can.
But, you see, this author lives in the building with his wife, who is about to have a baby. He’s trying to write two books, and is constantly looked to for guidance. Before Howard’s character leaves, she explains to this man that the history book he writes will have a change on the world, be the most important piece ever written, re-shape history, and cause his son to seek an important role in politics. And just to add to the martyrdom, he will die before ever seeing this happen.
If there’s ever been such a case of a writer putting himself on the pedestal as a martyr, then this has to be the most blatant and irritating of them all. His character, even though only featured as a supporting player, is the most important character of them all, because he will help shape the world.
No one else.
Not even Giamatti’s character.
You know, Mr. Shyamalan, perhaps the executives at Dreamworks were on to something. Every once in a while these producers can be right. It can happen. Did you actually see “Lady in the Water” beyond your veil of delusions of grandeur and egomania? I really don’t think you did.
Because if you had, you’d have seen a boring, dull, bland, and pompous piece of fantasy garbage that ever graced the screen since “Dungeons and Dragons.”
I expect better from you.