Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Lady in the Water
This film pretty much sunk without trace on release in the UK at least, and reading the reviews on RottenTomatoes.com, it isn't hard to see why. Yet I'm a Shylaman fan, so damn it I'm rented it from Amazon and now I feel compelled to write about it.
So first, why did it get such a bad reception?
1) What bugs me is if things aren't perfect, or near perfect, they get slagged off as if they were 100% crap, but Shylaman's films aren't perfect, in fact they've got less perfect as he's gone along as he's pushed his boundaries further and perhaps as his ego has got rather bigger. But that is no reason not to see and enjoy Lady in the Water for the perfect things in it that are contained within its imperfection.
2) I think the trailers have a lot to answer for. Before I rented the movie I didn't know a whole lot about it, just that it was the latest Shylaman. So as Hubland* and I sat down to watch it we flicked to the special features first to watch the trailers. The full length trailer advertised a totally different film - a big budget horror movie - rather than a haunting fairytale. So if people went to see it based on that, they are going to be very confused and disappointed. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if they walked out after 30 mins.
3) Not withstanding point 1) it was far from perfect - some of the scripting was pretty awkward, somehow the premise just didn't get itself across until over half way through and I still think I need to watch it again to understand it properly, basically it didn't hang together despite the great cast, the beautiful cinematography, and the quirky fairytale plot.
So why then did I like it despite its flaws?
Because I like fairytales, I like fantasy, and I particularly like when the edges bleed and disappear between fantasy and reality. Lady in the Water isn't a masterpiece like Pan's Labyrinth, but it is a worthy attempt and has some beautiful moments. Paul Giamatti and Bryce Howard are a wonderful pairing. The motley crew of neighbours that come together to form the mythical characters are charming and bizarre. And hell, it's worth seeing for the cinematography alone!
Ok this has turned into a more stream of consciousness blog than I anticipated, but I'm going to press publish now anyway, and I hope you see Lady in the Water, and let me know what you think.
*this is his new monicker as he is "the land of Husbands"