“Nothing will prepare you for the rampant foolishness” of M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water,” says Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson. “It’s as if on some semiconscious level, Shyamalan, who I do not doubt is a serious and self- serious pop-creative original, is calling his own success into question and daring his audience to gulp down larger and spikier clusters of manure, just to see if they will. Or he’s lost his mind.”
As I wrote last week, I think Shyamalan’s sub-conscious game is to get people to write him off and perhaps even deliberately create a huge failure so he can escape from the penitentiary of his Sixth Sense legend and the large expectations that have come from that. Overly, consciously, I’m sure he wants audiences and critics to like Lady in the Water…naturally. But life is always, always about the deep-down stuff.
“This isn’t magical realism, it’s pure magical thinking,” Atkinson continues, with Shyamalan “mystically assuming that any idea or image that pops into his skull will make a shapely tale, no matter how much cock-and-bull logic he has to invent to Gorilla Glue it together. Like all his movies from The Sixth Sense on, Lady pivots on the dawning awareness of a vast cosmic plan, foisted on grieving parents and spouses as a holy scab for their wounds. [And] it’s beginning to chafe as a formula.”