Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 36
  2. Negative: 14 out of 36
  1. If the ultimate goal is entertainment, then Lady in the Water enthusiastically rises to the task. In a movie laden with enough symbolism, shamanism and mythic lore to make Joseph Campbell dance a tribal jig, Shyamalan never forgets to have fun.
  2. 63
    There is a good chunk of Lady in the Water that is simply too well made and affectingly acted to dismiss as a mere exercise in arrogance.
  3. Shyamalan does project genuine menace and suspense into this mundane location, especially in nighttime scenes. But the magic that would transport you from reality into fantasy is missing.
  4. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    There is much pleasure to be had watching a born storyteller juggle more balls than even he can carry.
  5. 58
    The man has gifts -- but acting and, it's increasingly clear, storytelling aren't among them.
  6. 50
    You leave Lady thinking there are still voices in Shyamalan's head well worth a listen.
  7. 50
    It lacks the simplicity and resonance of classic fairy tales: It's so muddled and belabored, it's hard to imagine the tykes ever staying awake long enough to hear how it all turned out.
  8. Lady, like all of Shyamalan's movies, is a slick production with consistently interesting visuals... But the story is so convoluted and ultimately preposterous that you're almost embarrassed by the earnestness of the actors trying to carry it off.
  9. Lady in the Water boasts an eclectic cast - almost entirely squandered.
  10. Has the strengths and weaknesses of a one-man show.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The character played by lead Paul Giamatti is a dead-on Shyamalan protagonist: emotionally distanced and something of a train wreck.
  12. Shyamalan's most alienating and self-absorbed project to date.
  13. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    What's odd about Lady in the Water is that for all Shyamalan's histrionics, he's overcontrolled.
  14. One of the more watchable films of the summer. A folly, true, but watchable.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Unfortunately, this narf's a drag: she talks like a fortune cookie and doesn't really do anything. Still, the multicultural cast is fun, the images have a painterly beauty and there are some beguiling comic touches before the story sinks into a swamp of solemn metaphysical glop.
  16. It's hard to think of a deadlier shotgun marriage than Jacques Tourneur's poetry of absence and Spielbergian uplift, but Shyamalan has patented the combo, adding pretentious camera movements that are peculiarly his own--even the jokes are pretty solemn.
  17. 42
    Shockingly misconceived, poorly executed effort.
  18. 40
    There are moments of great beauty throughout (the film was lensed by Wong Kar-Wai cinematographer Christopher Doyle), and Shyamalan's heart is nowhere if not on his sleeve, but even these moments cannot steer Lady in the Water clear of its director's zealously over-earnest pretensions.
  19. 40
    Lady in the Water feels very much like something its author made up as he went along; and, if it weren't so damn weird, it would most certainly put you right to sleep.
  20. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    I will hold against him (Shyamalan) that Lady in the Water isn't scary, that its own inner logic breaks down at countless points along the way, and that its ending is disappointingly literal and just plain stupid. Lady in the Water is, however, funny at times, even intentionally so.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Lady doesn't work. Although he detonates a few terrific frissons involving the scrunt, the stabs at comedy are lurching and arrant. The spreading of tension from one character to many dilutes the mood. The would-be rapturous Spielbergian ending is on the wussy side.
  22. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    A ponderous, self-indulgent bedtime tale. Awkwardly positioned, this gloomy gothic fantasy falls well short of horror.
  23. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    The film is a rogue hunk of hooey.
  24. 38
    The result is a soggy swamp of nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyahing, its only grace notes are Giamatti's fine, nuanced performance as Heep and Christopher Doyle's handsome cinematography.
  25. 38
    This is sloppy filmmaking, and it's likely to wipe away whatever luster still remains to Shyamalan's reputation.
  26. This isn't nitpicking. Every bit of the tale is as full of holes as a wool sweater at a moth convention, and Shyamalan telegraphs each potential surprise.
  27. 33
    If you're not a fan of M. Night Shyamalan's convoluted, teasing thrillers, you'll find that getting into this movie is like cracking a puzzle in which the constructor keeps breaking his own rules or grabbing new ones from ultra-thin air.
  28. 30
    Lady is more of an ensemble picture, and truly the Cove is the most ethnically diverse and community-minded apartment complex in the continental United States.
  29. 30
    Challenges us to believe in the power of myth. But the big challenge here is surviving the tedium of Shyamalan's meandering inventiveness. What's supposed to be fanciful storytelling is really just audience punishment.
  30. 30
    There is something bizarrely compelling about the movie. It's slower than watching a train wreck but invokes that same level of disbelief.
  31. 25
    A charmless, unscary, fatuous and largely incoherent fairy tale.
  32. Crazy as this might sound, it turns out that self-indulgent ramblings designed to put your children to sleep are pretty much the opposite of art.
  33. I suspect audiences will see Shyamalan's portentous doodle for what it is - the height of arrogance and a bad night out at the movies.
  34. It comes off as tedious, pretentious, self-indulgent, talky and so garbled it might have been improvised by the actors.
  35. It's as if on some semiconscious level, Shyamalan, who I do not doubt is a serious and self-serious pop-creative original, is calling his own success into question and daring his audience to gulp down larger and spikier clusters of manure, just to see if they will. Or he's lost his mind.
  36. This cloying piece of claptrap sets a high-water mark for pomposity, condescension, false profundity and true turgidity -- no small accomplishment for the man whose last two features were the deadly duo "Signs" and "The Village."
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 375 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 215
  1. Jun 8, 2014
    I don't know what kind of mind set was the director on when writing the script but he must have been way over his head...

    There are many
    things here that don't click together: i mean, there are some memorable character traits and the directing is actually competent, but the whole movie is stuck in it's own state of mind that is hard to fully sympathize with the circumstances, for example: why prolong the movie with unneeded conversations? they pretty much add nothing to the film, that doesn't classify has "character development", why all the weird editing and camera positions? they just make the movie silly to watch and what's up with shyamalan casting himself has the choose one? is he pretending to be the best? is he trolling us...?

    The movie is memorable, has a nice soundtrack and the directing effort is where it counts, with it's actors who all do a good job in my opinion... however I can't help but scratch my head at all the weird choices and ridiculous style that make the movie more off a comedy than anything else. I can at least say that the movie made me watch it until the end and I can appreciate that the director wanted to break the common rules of storytelling.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 19, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I consider it a minor miracle I actually stayed awake for the entirety of this movie. Questions arise within the viewer that M. Night never seemed to consider: Why does the eagle-creature not come earlier in the story? Do these Scrunts prey upon its kind? Wherefore the negligible character development? Why and how does the kid engage in divination with **** cereal boxes? And of course, why did M. Night cast himself as the indirect savior of humanity? I’ll come clean: I had never actually seen any of his other movies before this one, so I’m rating all his other films more cautiously as a rule.

    The correct adjective for this would be SOPORIFIC.

    I would give this movie 1/10 only, but it does get an extra point for predicting America’s future president as being a Midwestern orator, and two years and change after this movie was released, guess who…
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 10, 2013
    No question this film is the start of a drop off for Shyamalan, but call me crazy I still enjoy watching this film as a ridiculous, bizzare, and overall nonsensical bit of fun. Full Review »