The Village

Review Date:
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan
Joaquin Phoenix
Bryce Dallas Howard
William Hurt
It’s 1897 and a group of adults have built a community within a forest that contains certain “creatures” of unknown origin. The townfolk have lived side-by-side with the strange beings for many years, mainly because of a set of established rules that they have agreed upon with them, one of which includes not ever treading into their side of the woods. Then one day, a youngster from the town asks the elders if he can trek through the forest and that’s when the shit hits the fan. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest creation ensues…
I’m still not really sure how I feel about this movie, but one thing that I am sure about is that it’s my least favorite M. Night Shyamalan film so far. Thankfully, I had avoided hearing anything about this movie’s ending before I saw it (many on the Net were aware of it), so I was pleasantly appreciative of its climax, but have come to be believe that you can’t really build an entire movie on a “twist ending” alone, since the story and characters have to be engaging and fulfilling as well. In the case of THE VILLAGE, I certainly was never fully bored with the picture, but wasn’t overly pulled into it either. It was a decent story with an interesting premise that kept me awake for a while, but did get a little too “long in the tooth” about halfway, at which point, I was really hoping that someone would go into the fuckin’ woods already and stop talking about it. There was a captivating romance between Joaquin Phoenix and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters, and that was cute enough to forgive the film’s postponement of the much-anticipated entrance into the forest, but even then, there wasn’t really as much overall suspense or mystery as Shyamalan’s other pictures. One sequence featuring a village “invasion” of sorts was well handled, with an artsy slow-motion shot making my day. I also appreciated the director’s style, use of sound and score, and its cinematography, but those elements are usually padding to a great story, which this film, didn’t possess.

Its reliance upon a couple of major plot turns was well handled, but I didn’t particularly care for the film’s first “reveal” and while I liked how the last one was handled, can’t honestly recommend a movie based solely on a good ending, since the first two hours also have to deliver. In this case, the actors were also well played, with specific kudos to Adrien Brody as the headcase, and Howard, who is most obviously going to be a major star if she plays her cards right after this film. A superb performance that might be worth noting at the end of the year. William Hurt, on the other hand, acts with his beard and an old way of speaking. Now while I don’t want to give away any plot specifics about the movie (the less you know, the better), I will say that my friends and I discussed it at length after our screening, and couldn’t help but discover dozens of “plot holes” in the storyline, once revealed. If you’re a nitpicker and really want to talk about the film afterwards, I’m sure that you too, will find many problems with it. That said and despite my own reservations about the film’s plotline, I still recommend it, if only slightly, because of the performances, the “look” and “feel” of the film, the premise itself, which starts and ends quite interestingly, a couple of “boo” scares and the goofy cameo by the film’s director (how cute!) Not a classic or solid movie by any means, but not the worst of the summer either. A definite step down for Shyamalan though. And as much as I love him and his mysterious ways, I’m also getting a little tired of the whole reliance on his endings and would hope that he take this less-than-stellar offering as a sign that he should create something a little more “even” the next time around, so that audiences could start to enjoy his movies as a whole, rather than basing their enjoyment on whether or not they liked the “twists” or its “endings”. But then again…maybe that’s just me.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Village