Lady in the Water

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner9/08/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

A superb performance by Paul Giamatti just about keeps this afloat, but Lady in the Water is mostly notable for Shyamalan's astonishing arrogance.

What's it all about?
Based on a continuing bedtime story that writer-director M Night Shyamalan made up for his daughters, Lady in the Water stars Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep, an apartment complex caretaker who finds a water nymph named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) in his swimming pool.

When Cleveland discovers that Story is on a mission to help save mankind, he enlists the help of all the building's residents (including writer Shyamalan and puzzle fanatic Jeffrey Wright), each of whom has their own part to play. However, a scary grass-wolf (don't ask) is trying to make sure that Story doesn't get a happy ending.

The Good
Paul Giamatti is superb as Cleveland and his performance single-handedly rescues Lady in the Water from one star ignominy. Frankly, you'll marvel at his ability to keep a straight face as he delivers Shyamalan's pretentious and painfully inept dialogue.

Bryce Dallas Howard is good too but she isn't required to do much more than sit around and look cute while damp. There's also strong support from Bob Balaban, as a know-it-all film critic who forms the butt of an elaborate and ill-conceived revenge joke.

The Bad
Where to start? Perhaps with the fact that, despite being widely criticised for his terrible acting in his previous films, Shyamalan has cast himself as a writer whose works will eventually bring peace to the world, Bible-style. Or maybe with the fact that he's given his supposedly Chinese creatures stupid-sounding names like narfs (the nymphs), scrunts (the grass wolves) and tartutric (the Evil Tree Monkeys – again, don't ask).

Worth seeing?
Watchable enough thanks to Giamatti's committed performance, but it's hard not to feel that Shyamalan either has a shocking God complex or is having a huge laugh at the viewer's expense. Still, it's marginally less annoying than The Village.

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Lady in the Water
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Content updated: 28/01/2020 13:56

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