The Village

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Erich Cella

Much like the brilliant but late Stanley Kubrick, M. Night Shyamalan has a knack for building up suspense and drama by slowly introducing the integral characters in a deliberate manner.

“The Village” is a good example of this technique, because instead of numbing the senses by unleashing a barrage of explosions or introducing the audience with obnoxious and outwardly emotionally unstable vociferous characters, he would rather write characters with a quiet intensity and humility.

This is not to say that his characters are not interesting or lack personality, they are just more thoughtful and show more patience before taking any form of action.

This is overtly evident by the quiet civility present within Joaquin Pheonix as he portrays the steady and anti-social Lucious. He barely mutters a phrase throughout this film but the audience is still intrigued by the inner intensity and sadness conveyed in his eyes.

The aspect of the film that surprised me is that Lucious wasn’t even the main focus of this exercise as supporting actress Bryce Dallas Howard steals the show.

She plays the vivacious and hypnotically beautiful Alice Walker, who’s vision is impaired, but acts as if it’s part of who she is, not just an obstacle. Of course, like most other disabled individuals throughout their existence, Alice has been sheltered in this small town but is licking her chops at the prospect that she could experience love and follow her own path on the trail of self actualization.

Her warmth and brutal honesty is a refreshing change of pace from the reserved compassion of the other characters.

Other performances by William Hurt as Edward walker (father of Alice) and Sigourney Weaver as the mother of luscious round out this very talented cast but, I felt that their individual talents were not exposed to their greatest potential.

They seemed to want to explode with veracity during their emotional lulls at some moments in the film but, they’re gracious enough to step aside and let Shyamalan work his magic.

A performance that has not garnered much attention is the mentally disabled character played by award winning, Adrian Brody. He presents this character as an oblivious, gentle and earnest man who couldn’t hurt a fly, but it’s a perfect set up for the events that unfold later in the story.

The story of this film takes place on an isolated Amish like village inhabited by a low maintenance population devoid of cable television, advanced technology, wealth, and because of that, actually have to communicate with each other, instead of being encapsulated within the confines of their homes.

Everyone has similar homes, wardrobes, and speak without slaughtering the English language by shunning any sort of mindless slang.

The catch is that they are separated by a segment of woods that are said to be filled with dangerous creatures and if threatened can unleash a wrath of terror upon the peaceful community. There’s not much else I can tell you about the plot without spoiling the movie but you get the idea of the story.

Most of the time it feels as if you are solving a murder mystery and if you pick up enough clues along the way, you won’t be that surprised by the outcome.

With that being said, its still worth it, as it compels you to think and focus in on the details leading you to the ultimate destination.

It’s imperative that I also mention the beauty and gloomy color palette used by Shyamalan in the shooting of this film, since it gives personality to the backwards society.

You, as an audience member, feel as if you’re a resident of this town and also feel reluctant to uncover the secrets awaiting within the unexplored woods. His films are like a work of art in the sense that all his films are an extension of the demons he struggles with and just by looking at the movie you can conjure up your own disturbing images.

Before a line of dialogue has been dispersed by one of the actors, you can still instantly become haunted by images, much like the aftermath of any battle scene in a Kurosawa film.

I only hoped he would mix it up a little bit by working on other genres of movies in order to escape the trappings of being labeled as only directing supernatural thrillers.

He’s such a talented director, that it would be a waste of his ability to simply duplicate what he has accomplished in the past. He has an uncanny understanding of the human condition and knows what can touch the human soul but gets locked down into writing surprise endings, that overshadow the character studies.

With all that being said, he’s built a solid foundation for the rest of his career, with four gems already on his resume.

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