Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Lady In The Water
After work I went and saw Lady In The Water. I know the movie has been really bashed by critics, but I've enjoyed other movies that took such a beating (like The Rules Of Attraction), plus I saw the preview and was hooked. Also, Paul Giamatti stars in the movie and he is one of my favourite actors, so in the end it was a no-brainer.
Shall we have a brief overview of the plot here? By all means!
Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is the caretaker, or handyman, or whatever you call it, of an apartment building. The place has a swimming pool and Cleveland suspects somebody of swimming in it against the rules, that is, late at night - there is a rule that residents must not use the pool after 7:00pm. One night he hears splashing in the pool and discovers a strange, naked young woman. The woman tells him that she is from a place called the Blue World. She is being chased by monsters that look like large demonic dogs covered with grass and sticks and leaves. According to some legend (actually a bedtime story), if a human makes contact with one of these people (I mean like the girl he found in the pool), then humanity can be saved, or something. (How am I doing with the plot? It's not easy, this one!)
Cleveland, being the apartment building's handyman, knows a lot of the residents and there are some real characters there. One of them, a young man, works out with weights but only building up one side of his body - his right arm and leg are huge, while his left are normal size. Another apartment is host to a group of, I suppose what you might call "slackers", who sit around smoking and drinking and talking about whatever comes to mind.
Cleveland is a man with a tragic past, and the young woman learns about this by reading his diary. I won't commit any spoilers, only say that this element of the story was affecting and well-handled.
This story in fact is a modern fairytale. It's difficult to make a definitive criticism of it, because I'm not sure I understood everything in it, and it seemed very ambitious, even experimental - a combination of fairytale, modern drama, and horror. It seemed to be alternatingly enjoyable and fascinating, then embarassing and self-indulgent. I feel that I need to see it again at some later time to resolve my opinion of it.
Anyway, if you are a fan of Paul Giamatti, you will see it and at least enjoy his performance, which is strong. And it's an M. Night Shyamalan movie. He might have made some misfires, but his movies are required viewing, in my opinion (in particular for his dealing with supernatural themes).
After I found an almost-perfect seat in the theatre, an odd fellow came and sat two seats away from me. He had wild, straw-like hair and sat perfectly motionless, intently watching the screen. I estimated his age to be around early 30s. He arrived with a distinctively peculiar smell, yet not so disagreeable that would call for a seat change, rather a smell of clothing piled up for months in a closed room. But within 20 minutes I was accustomed to it and forgot about it. I didn't notice him again until the movie ended and the lights went up. I looked across and he was holding his hands up in front of his face, but still looking intently at the screen as the credits rolled, looking through his fingers. It seemed to me that he was greatly moved by the movie, which moved me in turn. I wanted to talk to him, to ask him about his impressions of the movie. I didn't though. I got up and walked out before the credits finished. It was too intense sitting there near him with his hands up and his powerful emotions.