Fairy tales work best when—either on screen or page—they suck you into their world and make you a part of the fantasy. There, you see the wonders unfold. You step through the wardrobe. Travel to Mordor. Or skip along the yellow brick road. On these journeys, you discover the complexities and personalities of these fantastic worlds by experiencing them. By walking these tales, the complicated myths become real and understood.

Lady in the Water is also a complex, fantasy-filled bedtime story—but told in a different and ultimately less effective way. It doesn't so much invite you into the world of the story as it displays people hearing about a story.

The mythic tale at the center of the film involves "those in the water" who, thousands of years ago, lived in concert with the earthbound man. They would inspire mankind as guides and muses. They made man better. But then, man's ugliness severed the bond. But still, the water people tried to reach man. The script by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village) treats this made-up myth as a story "from the East" that a group of everyday shmoes discovers may be true.

Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is the dutiful and quiet superintendent of The Cove apartments. Hiding from the world because of past pain, Heep busies himself with repairing toilets and light fixtures. His mundane life is challenged when he discovers someone else hiding at The Cove—a woman called Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) who's been living in the pool.

Heep discovers this woman is actually a Narf, one of those sea-nymph creatures from that Eastern bedtime story. She is there to touch and inspire one tenant who, if moved to continue working on a certain writing project, will change the ...

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Lady in the Water
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some frightening sequences)
Genre
Directed By
M. Night Shyamalan
Run Time
1 hour 50 minutes
Cast
Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban
Theatre Release
July 21, 2006 by Warner Bros.
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