The Village

I went to see The Village last night. I’ll do my best not to reveal any of the surprises here, in case you plan to see M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film.

This movie demonstrates again that M. Night is less interested in surprise and terror than in exploring themes such as faith, fear, love and sacrifice. Unfortunately, the success of The Sixth Sense has created the expectation of a surprise ending. Both the nature and timing of the “twist” in The Village seem a deliberate effort to turn attention away from plot devices and external obstacles, and to focus instead on characters, psychological obstacles and universal human themes.

I don’t mind this shift in his work (away from thriller/suspense to drama) and his mixing of genres within a movie. But with this movie, I didn’t think the different elements were harmonized… (or they were during the first half of the film, but not after that). It feels to me like oil and water put together. The suspense elements of the movie are only the hook to get you into the story, so that the more substantial stuff can be trotted out… but then there really isn’t time to explore the more significant stuff, because the narrative hook which sells the film requires so much time and development. And the end was ambiguous and felt incomplete to me.

There were things to appreciate about this film: the score, the visuals, many of the performances, even some of the exchanges… and some images had religious resonance, both Christian and Jewish… a few things brought to my mind Passover (or anti-Passover / Exodus / covenant stuff). The dialogue was a bit odd, but in harmony with the odd construction of The Village itself.

I give it one thumb up. It’s worth seeing if you’ve enjoyed Shyamalan before. I’d be interested to hear what you think…

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