The Village

The Village ★★★★★

M. Night Shyamalan's greatest aptitude might be that of control. His restraint has evanesced as of late, but there's no doubt it was once fiercely coursing through his style and approach. The Village, the last of the omnipotent Shyamalan, is also the final time his meticulousness and discipline was so completely illustrated and employed. His management of tone and ambiance is vigorous and so too is his narrative; one that gradually unravels in the most gratifying way. Audacious, clever and scrupulously structured, this is one of the most unfairly treated films of the 21st century.

Perilous creatures lurk on the outskirts of town, and the way in which Shyamalan amalgamates this with everyday life is subtle and cogent. The threat of their immanency is vivacious in each scene, with the increasing paranoia traumatising most of the villagers. All the emotions and all the fears are so well realized here that no words need to be spoken; the ambiance supplies all the exposition.

The heady atmosphere that sweeps through the settlement, the virtuosic performances, the mounting dread, the mystifying riddles -- it all collides with a poignant bang and creates 108 minutes of pure genius. This was the last we saw of the revered Shyamalan before he descended into the abyss of miscalculation and monotony and somehow forgot what made his movies so great -- the seamless combination of the supernatural and the actual. His gift for creating profound characters in a wraithlike universe and mixing real world conundrums with ethereality is almost unparalleled, and The Village asserts this with affirmation.

The film gleams with confidence and marinates itself in tangible darkness for its entirety. The beauty of the film is stunning and serene, as are the sets that we predominantly focus upon and pivot around. The authenticity of this remote village is astounding and the attention to detail is just as mesmeric.

The conclusive discovery is done with such delicacy and subduedness that it resembles the smooth turning of a page. The build-up is fluid and adroit, as are the twists and turns characters must grapple with. Accompanying us along the journey is one of the most atmospheric soundtracks in recent memory by James Newton Howard. Beautiful harmonies and melancholic melodies affect the mood and our temper drastically.

Shyamalan's touch for creating bonafide citizens with bubbling emotions is fully showcased with his vessels here. Bryce Dallas Howard as the courageous Ivy Walker steals the show. What she invests into her character is just wonderful and Howard's ability to show, not tell in terms of emotions is so admirable. Joaquin Phoenix's solemn portrayal is gravitating, William Hurt is just brilliant as the town's patriarch and Adrien Brody, as always, becomes completely lost in his challenged character. But in the end, it is Howard who dominates this film.

All great Shyamalan films have a certain texture, a certain vibe about them that resides viscerally in the viewer. This director has a skill for control, and The Village might be one of his most rigorous and animated. M. Night Shyamalan's The Village is the last piece of work from that man that radiated confidence and proficiency, and it in fact is one of his best.

"Why can you not say what is in your head?"

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