Skip to main content

Does 'the Lady' sink or swim?

The reviews are cropping up everywhere for film-this-blog-has-been-anticipating Lady in the Water, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest about apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep’s discovery that a young woman he rescues from the complex pool is actually a character from a bedtime story who must get back to her home. Heep and the tenants work together to protect her from the creatures after her as well as get her home.

What are critics from the Christian publications saying? First up, Todd Hertz at Christianity Today says:

The wonderful message at the core of Shyamalan's tale is that everyone has a purpose. You may not know what it is or that you even have a gift, but you do. And too many of us spend our lives hiding from it or searching in vain. Lady's idea of searching for your purpose in life not only has similarities to the biblical notions of gifts and the body of Christ, but also hints at the idea that we are part of a larger world. We don't really know our part in a greater story, but we must have faith that it is there. Story says, "Man thinks he is alone in this … but you are connected."
But Hertz finds weaknesses in the film as well—primarily with how the story is told. According to Hertz, there are too many rules and specifics to the myth, the plot becomes an “exercise of literary criticism,” and the we’re-in-a-story awareness of the characters becomes heavy-handed, like (as I thought Hertz very wittily put) “The Wizard of Oz crossed with Scream.” Heh. Anyway, Hertz’s final analysis? Lady in the Water is “an enjoyable tale that, in the end, is largely unmemorable.”

Over at, Christian Hamaker declares Lady in the Water not a typical Shyamalan splash. Hamaker sees weaknesses in the film as well—“less effective is a climatic sequence that fails to glue us to our seats the way Signs did, or offer any great surprise”—but declares:

Nevertheless, the film is often inspirational, contemplating the worth of humankind, showing how those who are emotionally deadened can be reawakened by a power beyond themselves, and demonstrating how the bonds of a loosely knit community can be strengthened in a common cause.

As with the director’s other films, Lady in the Water includes certain principles, such of the interconnectedness of all things, more commonly associated with Eastern philosophies, but Lady also echoes biblical characters and ideas: a reluctant leader is pressed into service for a greater cause, and each person discovers that they have a special purpose.

Hamaker’s bottom line? “[T]here’s wonder in this story, which appeals to our hopes and aspirations, rather than to our fears and cynicism. Although not quite on par with some of the director’s earlier work, Lady has its rewards."

That’s it for the more well-known Christian voices out there. I couldn’t find anything at
Sojourners, Relevant, OOZE or World Magazine. Hollywood Jesus has yet to post a review, but keep checking back with them.

For reviews in the mainstream secular press, hit RottenTomatoes (which includes links to and snippets from a plethora of online reviews) where the “critics tomatometer” is running at 25% (on the “rotten” end versus the “fresh” end). Me? I’m withholding all judgment until I see it. Well, that’s not true. Shyamalan is my fav filmmaker, so I guess I’m eyeing the negative reviews kind of, well, negatively, heh.

To catch up with the various teasers, trailers and TV spots go here.

(Image: Warner Bros)