Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Tell Me a Story

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Bedtime stories usher children into dreams.  They put you to sleep, and they deliver you to a place where the world is a ball of the best clay, and you can shape it into anything you want.  That’s one of the rewards for writers: creating.  Many writers will tell you that the actual construction of the narrative, the measuring of the plot, the realism of the setting and the dialog—all of this is the rough hewn and learned skill needed to bring the dream to life.  It’s a real chore.  And the best stories never let you in on the work.  They just deliver you the dream. 

Lady in the Water did that to me when I saw it this morning.  No, M. Night Shyamalan isn’t going to score a lot of points with this.  Anyone going in expecting to see The Sixth Sense for the fourth time will leave the theater disappointed.  There’s no twist ending, no real chills, just a fine story that takes you (it took me, anyway) to another place. 

If there’s a theme to be found here, it is that of purpose.  Movies, like this one, allow us for a moment to consider the possibility of an unseen world where things really are special and that all of us really do have a purpose beyond sitting at a desk and entering data.  I like to think that most of the world isn’t run by men with big levers.  It’s run by the millions of mice running on a spinning wheel after a morsel of cheese that hangs just out of reach.  We run after a promise that never seems fulfilled.  We long to see an end, to see ourselves cross that finish line and know, if only for a moment, that something we did helped someone else, and that that somebody maybe did something for still another, and so on.  And so we dream.  And so we tell stories. 

Like Unbreakable, Lady fits well into its intended genre.  It’s a storybook tale, very light on the plausible, heavy on the fantastic.  And for this, many people will probably avoid seeing it, opting instead to see it on video where they will complain the next morning at the water cooler that they just didn’t get it.  That’s okay.  The rest of us will live on quite happily. 


Written by taj

July 22, 2006 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Movies

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