Complete A-Z list

Lady in the Water


Stars: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bob Balaban, M Night Shyamalan, Sarita Choudhury, Jeffrey Wright, Freddy Rodriguez, Mary Beth Hurt

Director: M Night Shyamalan

As nicely made and full of jumpy moments as you'd expect from Shyamalan, the director of The Sixth Sense and Signs, this risky fantasy is let down by Shyamalan's own script, which mixes silly names for its characters, such as narfs and scrunts, with uneasy dialogue that never quite hits the mark.

Paul Giamatti, sounding like James Stewart, is a man with a tragic past who now works as a janitor at an apartment complex which includes a swimming pool. One night he discovers Story, a nymph-like creature (Howard) who has been living in the catacombs beneath the pool after being sent to Earth from the Blue World for the benefit of mankind.

Her mission accomplished when she meets a tenant who's a writer (played quite well by the director himself), her return to the Blue World is threatened by a scrunt, a green wolf-like creature determined to kill her - especially when she turns out to be a Madam (super) Narf, who can only be protected by a Guardian, an Interpreter, a Healer and a Gild, all of whom turn out to be inhabitants of the complex.

It's worth relating the yarn in detail to show you just how silly this is. And you'll have to giggle at some of the methods used to help restore the narf to her world.

And yet, at the same time, with a decent, tight screenplay, it might just have worked. 'You have to believe,' says Giamatti, 'that all this makes sense somehow.' Alas, in this version, it's impossible to do so.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
109 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Aug 2006