M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film Lady in the Water is a bedtime tale about a nymph that arrives at a hotel in Philadelphia to advise a human. Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is a building manager that puts together the clues to help the nymph, named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), in her trip back to the “Blue World” before a dangerous creature tries to stop and kill her. Consequently, the inspiration for this film came from a story Shyamalan would tell his children about what happens in their pool.
Shyamalan is known for making memorable movies with shocking endings like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Unfortunately, Lady in the Water is nothing like them and could be considered a low point in his filmmaking career. This self-indulgent movie seems improvised and unbound by reality. At times it becomes so involved in itself that it leaves the audience bored and confused.
There is no doubt that both Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard can act but their talent cannot save the film from disaster. The story is increasingly complicated as more rules and laws are lobbed on about how Story is allowed to return and whether she is the leader of all nymphs. This movie lacks the humor of the director’s previous films, and Shyamalan casts himself as a prophetic writer which comes off as egocentric rather than humble.
Shyamalan tries to play with film critics by actually adding one in the movie. Too bad at the end the joke is on Shyamalan. Disney was right to criticize and refuse to produce it. Lady in the Water should stay in the water.