Man, Shyamalan is frustrating. At the time, people judged this largely by its ending (spoiled for me far in advance) and as an allegory for Bush. But really, it deserves to be judged as an allegory for grief, and on that count it works. But how can a director capable of such ideas fail to notice that his actors stumble over his lines, or how often elements that should be serious are instead atonal and silly?
The Village emphasizes atmosphere over narrative, making it all the more unfortunate that talk regarding it always centres around the twist ending, or its "ineffectiveness" as a thriller. When it's clearly not a film that sets out to create thrills as its main goal, but to use its setting—a creation held together through fear by those who were afraid—as backdrop of a blind and sacrificial struggle towards/for love.
You can see the twist coming from a mile away, and there's definitely some questionable choices - but in the end, this is quite a wonderful film. I was shocked to have found a Shyamalan film so enjoyable (and then, was annoyed that I waited so long to give it a chance). Howard is charming and beautiful, Phoenix is brave and terse, the cinematography is stunning at times, and the story is lovely. Critics are snobs.
In many aspects, it's perfect. This can be an essay on how to write sci-fi, on how to unfold a premise, on how to ilustrate politics, on human behaviour, on the essence of societies. So simple, concise and powerful. It has the eloquence of allegories and the narrative prowess of timeless fables. And a legacy, probably, that will make it have people talk about its meaning and reach, for many years.
Watching it again after so many years—and during a time when the very name M. Night Shyamalan elicits hearty jokes—I'm happy to report that THE VILLAGE is an exquisitely crafted film about an elemental and pure love. Shyamalan may have fallen from grace, but it's not for lack of trying. As a métier and dramaturgist, he's in the full form here. Unequivocally romantic, THE VILLAGE is one of his very best works.
M. Night Shyamalan is the preeminent melancholy auteur of our times. The public continues to fix all their attention on "Village's" divisive ending, overlooking the fact that the film is one of the most moving and emotionally powerful works of the new millennium. This is the rare Hollywood movie in which love is depicted as a pure, elemental force - a single hand reaching out into the void, sustained only by faith.
I presume many people go into a Shyamalan film with a pre-conceived idea that he is a hack, and that the film will be awful. Shame really, because The Village is a beautiful, masterful film, and his best work in my opinion.