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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Now I like shaggy dogs more than most people, having lived with one for seven years. But The Village was just too much of a shaggy dog story for me.

Like your typical M. Night Shyamalan film, it's all building up to a Big Reveal that puts the whole story in an entirely new light. But unlike in The Sixth Sense, and like Unbreakable, the dramas of the characters don't sustain you through the movie to the Big Reveal. And this time (unlike Unbreakable) you see the Big Reveal coming at least twenty, thirty minutes before it comes.

The problem with a Big Reveal movie is that the writer knows a Big Reveal is coming, so he's working overtime to set up cool little mysteries that will make sense to the audience once the reveal comes. At least, he's supposed to. But there have to be more than mysteries. There has to be a compelling, driving story that isn't about the Big Reveal. Otherwise the audience is just waiting irritatedly for the film to unspool so they can find out what all the fuss was about.

Memento is structured as a series of reveals, as the movie moves back in time, each jump backwards revealing a new twist on what we thought we knew. But the drama itself was compelling enough that it wasn't jut about the reveals.


I've gotta say that the movie works better on further viewings. The problem with watching a Shyamalan film is that the viewer is working overtime to figure out the twist during the entire film. I thought The Village was actually a beautiful allegory that, like Unbreakable, works better as a methodically paced drama than a suspense thriller.

On a second viewing, you can get the twist out of the way and just relax. Therefore you're not let down by something the film isn't (a horror film, which it was marketed as) but you can focus on the characters. The film still does have its problems, and plot holes, but I still think it's underrated due, in most part, to the job the viewer takes on when sitting down to watch a Shyamalan film.

By Blogger Your gracious host, at 3:09 PM  

Maybe M. Night should try doing a movie or too sans twist ending. He's becoming the modern day O. Henry, but worse. I really can't stand any of his movies.

By Blogger C.J., at 7:08 AM  

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