Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallace Howard, Adrian Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Director: Manoj Night Shyamalan
The best thing about The Village is definitely not M. Night Shyamalan. It's Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy, the blind village girl who can see more than the sighted. The newcomer delivers a wonderfully fluid and remarkably effortless performance which alone makes the film worth a watch. Then there are Shyamalan's painterly images, the lingering eerie mood and an overwhelming sense of doom. The stark, still landscape, the ever-flickering village lamps, the yellow cloak of the safe colour set off against the red (bad colour) berries, the happy wedding and community dinner, the singular rocking chair and the rustling woods—Shyamalan's canvas is beautiful in its picturesque stillness. Beyond this there's nothing. No intriguing story, no sublime theme. No great Shyamalan brand of twist in the tale either. Shyamalan has specialised in building his movies like puzzles, scattering clues all through the narrative and then crowning it with a knockout revelation. In The Village he fails to pull the proverbial rug from under the viewers' feet. The disclosure is so absurd and far-fetched that one is left feeling cheated than surprised. The element of the unknown which made his Sixth Sense and Unbreakable unsettling goes totally missing here. The film's all about a strange, secluded 19th-century village community that refuses to step into the woods for the fear of encountering creatures which they refer to as "those we don't speak of". Till one day Ivy decides to cross the forest to reach the town for fetching medicines for her lover Lucius (Phoenix). The metaphorical town vs village debate, the notion of "protected innocence" seem forced and a bit too pat. The film's never engaging and one steps out of the hall feeling strangely empty and dissatisfied.