Since Shyamalan was given a free pass to create whatever he wanted after making a great (and financially successful) movie in ’99, I take anything further that has his name on it with a grain of salt and a touch of apprehension.
He’s certainly talented, but when one is given complete freedom to indulge their ideas they tend to produce at least SOME really bad ones.
Therefore the main reason for hope with this was the presence of Joaquin Phoenix, whom I have never seen appear in a truly bad film.
Phoenix is fine, as are the rest, but imagine my surprise when the standout of this movie turned out to be someone I’d never heard of before (Bryce Dallas Howard) as Phoenix’s love interest and the real lead of the film.
The story itself is somewhat creepy and certainly well done (acted, directed, etc) but this is no ‘Sixth Sense’. It’s intriguing but not near compelling, without flagrant flaw but also devoid of a point of revelation.
The most intriguing moment is a turning point in the film that is masterfully directed and sets up the finale.
The finale has a certain charm and the lead actress continues to shine, but this is a pleasant exercise in nostalgia, wistfulness, and innocence. Nicely done, but don’t expect anything more than that…there’s nothing “thrilling” about it.