The Village (2004)

(In theaters, August 2004) The most striking trend about M. Night Shyamalan’s films since The Sixth Sense is how, movie after movie, director Shyamalan has improved even as writer Shyamalan has lost touch. In terms of how to direct a suspense film, The Village is almost as exemplary as Signs in how to position a camera to show, but more importantly not to show some things. His use of colour is skillful, providing a visual segue into the theme of social manipulation that lies at the heart of the film. Director Shyamalan also retains his touch when comes the time to coax great performances out of his actors. This time, it’s Bryce Dallas Howard who manages to outshine everyone else as a spunky blind tomboy. Visually, the film is magnificent, and the tortured rhythm of the historical dialogue gets to be hypnotic after a while (it wouldn’t be pleasant to speak like that all the time, but wouldn’t you wish that everyone else did, sometimes?) A lot of good stuff, really. But then there’s the script, with the expected Big Shyamalan Twist. My advice: Spoil yourself rotten before seeing the film. Ask your friends to tell you the surprise. Read the script. This way, you won’t be driven to a film-burning rage by the way the last few minutes unfold –and retroactively screw up all the film up to that point. Don’t worry: spoilers will enhance your experience, removing the suspense of the twist while leaving you free to admire all that’s good and successful about The Village. Otherwise, you may be left with just Shyamalan to blame.

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