The fact that M. Night Shyamalan is a bankable director (his four previous films have grossed almost 2 billion dollars), can’t really be denied. Yet, Disney execs reportedly balked at Shyamalan’s vision for Lady in the Water. The question behind his quest to get this film made is the subject of The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale a book by Sports Illustrated writer Michael Bamberger, but it doesn’t really tell the tale that is most pressing, which is, "Has M. Night Shyamalan lost touch with his talent?"
There are arguably only two ways you look at M. Night Shyamalan and his movies. You either hate them, or you love them. Because of the negative press that Shyamalan has generated over the last few years (due mostly to his success that some felt happened too soon and too fast), Lady in the Water opened up to negative reviews from critics that seemed to parrot what ex-Disney head, Nina Jacobson had said about the original script (ironically, shortly after the story about the clash between Shyamalan and Jacobson was made public, Jacobson was fired as the head of Disney).
The main problem, for anyone who is paying attention, is that the critical backlash of Lady in the Water has more to do with the inclusion of a scene in which a film critic character is killed than with any other fault Shyamalan has a director and storyteller. The way a critic functions has long since changed. In an ideal world, critics offer a completely unbiased review of a film, but in this age of fame and celebrity, a critic is more interested in garnering attention than he/she is in offering the public insight into the value of a particular film.
After watching Lady in the Water, I can say that most of the critical pans of the movie are really unfounded. The story Shyamalan tells is both interesting and easy to follow for anyone who is paying attention. Is it believable? Hell no! It’s a movie and summer movie to boot. The main problem with anyone who can’t enjoy M. Night Shyamalan’s lates movie is that they are unable to suspend disbelief when they sit in the theater.
The movie is quirky and quiet and good in ways that most films today aren’t. It is a good story told with passion for and understanding of the idea that believing in fairy tales is something greater than most people realize.
I’ll admit to being a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s work, but that doesn’t preclude me from offering my opinion that the film is rewarding and worthwhile, even if you don’t like his previous work.