Lady in the Water - part 2
First there's the fact that the writer enjoyed the movie and was positive, and second, that he didn't mention the now famous director at all--almost as if he wasn't familiar with any of Shyamalan's other work. I was at first shocked at the lack of mention (I dare you to find other more mainstream reviewers do the same) and the then happy as a lark because I finally found an insightful review that didn't try to contextualize it next to his previous works as if they needed to be linked somehow--as if directors of rare, anomalous movies need always repeat the past in some small way or die trying.
The review, by Harrison Scott Key, called attention to one particular point that I think was alluded to on Jesse's blog--regarding the unorthodox character reactions to oddball events in the movie:
Whenever something completely weird happens in a realistic movie—like an alien lands or a ghost shows up at dinner—the audience generally needs one of two things. We either want a scientific explanation, or we want the hero to freak out and make us feel normal. So it's no surprise that an ashen young lady named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives under the pool drain. The surprise comes when Cleveland Heep rescues her from an awesome beast, finds out she's a kind of sea nymph called a narf, and doesn't seem to think he's going nuts. What's going on here? This is Philadelphia, not Middle Earth.Later he concisely argues for why this movie should work well for most:
Despite the fantastical nature of the work, our hero, Cleveland Heep, is about as round and real as they come. He is a flawed man who hurts, and he experiences a powerfully human moment of redemption and healing in the end. That's why you have to give yourself to the film. It takes faith to let art work on you. But if you let it, you'll be glad, in the end.