The Village

This will be a short review. Try as I might, I cannot think of a way to give even the teasing sort of plot synopsis that I usually give without spoiling the twists in The Village. I can’t even talk about theme.

M. Night Shyamalan has ascended to an almost unique position in the film world. He is typecast as a director of not only supernatural thrillers, but ones with a twist at the end. That’s a tough trick to pull off consistently, but he did it brilliantly for two films, Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Signs, though a very good film, didn’t follow the formula. I wonder if he can keep it up, or even if he wants to.

He does it at least one more time in The Village. This is a period piece, taking place in a 19th century village that lies deep in the wilderness of rural Pennsylvania. The town is inhabited by a gentle religious sect. Strange creatures live in the surrounding woods, and years ago, the founders of the village struck a bargain with them. The people obey a list of rules, the most important being to stay within the perimeter of the village, and the creatures leave them alone. That’s really all I can tell you, and you could have gleaned that from the previews.

The Village has Shyamalan’s trademark unbearable suspense. It is so effective because you care so much about the characters. Part of this is the director’s excellent script. But the performances are great also. Juaquin Phoenix is solid as Lucious Hunt, a quiet young man who doesn’t seem to fear the creatures. Newcomer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard’s daughter plays Ivy Walker, a vivacious blind woman. I guarantee you will fall in love with her. William Hurt is excellent as the conflicted leader of the community. There really isn’t a bad performance in the bunch.

Shyamalan’s mastery of the medium is complete. His use of sound and camera movement to create tension is incredible. The colors are muted. In Night’s world the skies are always overcast. It’s creepy. He can create a shock with just a camera movement and music.

The Village is one of this summer’s better films. I wish I could give you a better explanation as to why. But you wouldn’t thank me if I did.


2 Responses to “The Village”

  1. 1 rampage121584 August 2, 2004 at 4:32 am

    I saw the movie myself, and I loved it.

  2. 2 amhguy2 August 6, 2004 at 5:31 am

    I wholeheartely agree with this review.  When I saw "The Village," I left the movie theater feeling absolutely amazed.  Shyamalan's talent and creativity have prduced another great movie for us (also, it's interesting to note the endings to Shyamalan movies — the ending to "The Sixth Sense" is, in my opinion, one of the most shocking endings ever, then the ending to "Signs" was pretty bad, but then I think Shyamalan definitely gets it right in "The Village" — and I'm saying this even after I guessed part of the ending — that's how much I liked the ending).  But the true star of this movie is definitely Bryce Dallas Howard (as the blind girl, Ivy Walker).  I think that Howard deserves to win the Oscar for Best Actress for this performance!  I'm going to come right out and say it — I think that Bryce Dallas Howard's performance in this film is the best acting performance I've ever seen in any movie.  As an actor, I left the theater saying to myself, "Self, if you can ever act half as well as that girl (Howard) did in this movie, you should be happy."  Overall, going to "The Village" was definitely a trip to remember.  

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August 2004
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