The Village

2004

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Critics suck. Have you ever shyed away from a film the critics blasted, only to see it sometime later wondering WTF were they thinking?

I try to pay as little attention as possible to what those scum bag critics say about a given film. Although, if the rating on IMDb is under 5, that may warrant attention, but critics in general are so often full of crap, you'd be better off reading this. I wasn't planning on reviewing this film until I read Roger Ebert's review. Don't get me wrong, Ebert has lots of experience, generally knows his stuff, and from time to time may have a tiny bit of some relevant perspective to share. That said, his review of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village was so hugely off course, it could have been in another dimension. I won't guess about his perspective, his feelings, or any of that. His review of this movie was harsh.

I call bullshit. Screw the critic. This is a really good flick.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with this: A small village, think circa 1800's early settlement, exists in a clearing surrounded by some (enchanted) woods, presumably in the middle of nowhere. They live under constant threat of some unnamed creatures in the woods. As the film opens, the creatures begin to visit the village and occasionally leave marks on houses, or slay livestock. The ensuing drama surrounds the village investigating how the creatures were summoned, who may have crossed into the woods to antagonize them, and so on. In the midst of all this unsettling drama, we see two couples fall in love: the oldest daughter of the village founder (a rugged and bearded William Hurt), and the next oldest daughter, Ivy Walker, in a stunning performance by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Joaquin Phoenix was also excellent in his part as Lucius Hunt, the Romeo to Howard's Juliet. The role of the village idiot, by none other than the Pianist himself, is also remarkable.

Shyamalan's use of color in this movie is significant. How ironic that the safe color should be yellow--so often associated with weakness or cowardice. Yellow is oddly appropriate for the Elders, those who founded the Village; and that red, the color of passion, of excitement, of life and strength and all that, should be "the bad color". The color that somehow is responsible for attracting the attention of the evil monsters in the woods.

The elders should all have a yellow strip down their backs, but I digress.

The film prompts the viewer to question the world around you. It demands you not follow the rest of the herd with devotion, but step back, look around, and make your own decisions.

This isn't a drama, sci-fi or fantasy film. This isn't The Waltons meets Predator. It's not about escaping the outside world, struggling through life and loss, or fighting an unseen enemy. It's not about the two gimmicks uncovered at the end, forget it. And it isn't about anything that the fat bastard at the Chicago Sun-Times ranted about. This is a love story. It's a story about a boy that barely speaks, yet speaks volumes; and a girl with limited sight, who sees more than most; both possessing more bravery and integrity than all the rest, and how their love drives them to go excruciatingly beyond what any reasonable person would do.

But don't be turned off because it's a love story. It's a good flick.

Forget my ratings. Watch The Village again.

martums


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