“Man thinks they are each alone in this world. It is not true. You are all connected. One act can one day affect all.”
I am not a really big M. Night Shyamalan fan. Yes, I have seen the Sixth Sense and thought that was amazing, I have also seen Signs and The Happening (either you hated this movie or you liked it and I just so happened to like it). Shyamalan’s movies always have good stories they are always so different compared to everything that is out there. Lady in the Water, while not a success when it was released, is one of his best movies and one of the most original I have seen in years. Lady in the Water is based off a bedtime story Shyamalan wrote for his daughters.
Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is a landlord for an apartment complex. He spends his time fixing things for the tenants and talking to them. Cleveland has been hearing someone splashing around in the pool after hours. He asks some of the tenants but they have not heard anything.
After work one night Cleveland goes home to relax and falls asleep. When he wakes up he hears the splash in the pool again. He goes out to see who could be swimming but he finds no one there even after going for a swim himself. Suddenly someone flies out of the water and grabs a necklace from a pool chair. Cleveland goes to run after the person but he slips and falls hitting his head and rolls into the pool.
When Cleveland comes to he is lying on his bed. He looks at the end of his bed to see a young girl who he has never seen before. She has red hair, very pale skin, and she is only wearing one of his shirts. Her name is Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) and she rescued Cleveland at a great cost to her own life.
As Cleveland gets to know Story he learns that she is from an ancient culture of people who live under the water. She cannot go back to the pool because vicious dogs that live in the grass called Scrunts will come out and kill her. The Scrunts do not like Story’s people and will do whatever it takes to not let her back in the water.
The fairy tale of Story and her world is very fascinating and incorporates many of the people living in the apartment complex. At first we see these people just as Cleveland sees them- kind of odd and from multiple ethnicities. Each one of these people have their own ways about them and their own intelligences that near the end will help bring Story back to her world. I have to say that Shyamalan is an excellent storyteller this is totally original. I saw this with my friends and my brothers when it was released and I can clearly remember walking out of the theater and all of us just saying how great it was to have sat through a totally original story with none of the overused clichés. Shyamalan even goes so far as to throw in a character who is a movie critic and he has the character say “There is no originality left in the world… That is a sad fact I have come to deal with.” And in another part the character explains all horror movies and characters like himself.
I have got to tell a very funny story: The Scrunts in the movie (or as they were called once by Story the “JJ Scrunts”) are kind of scary. They are these nasty looking things that just come up out of the grass. My one brother who went with me to the movies was such a chicken and he was scared of them (my brother who is 6’3”… he’s so brave). My friend was driving us back and he pulled up to a space in front of my house and in front of the spaces is a hill of grass. My friend yelled out “Oh my God there’s a JJ Scrunt!” Well my brother screamed like a girl at the top of his lungs and ran out of the car!! We were all laughing at him so hard that we practically crawled out the car holding our stomachs. To this day we never let my brother live that moment down.
Lady in the Water is an excellent movie. Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard were fantastic; the entire cast was put together well (Shyamalan does make an appearance as a character throughout the movie). The movie is very original and very entertaining because it is original. It is movies like Lady in the Water that I still have some hope for modern Hollywood and the return of well made original movies. This is one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best works. It is not intense nor does it comes with a twist ending; it is a nice tale of one person in need who winds up helping many people around her. It brings you back to your childhood when you wanted to believe every story you ever heard and you still had innocence.