Welcome to Was it that bad?, a column where we look at films people love to hate, and see if they truly are stinkers. Today, we’re talking about M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, a thriller from 2004. Despite sitting at a lousy 43% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, IMDb is a bit kinder at 63% approval. Personally, despite its many flaws, I have sung the praises of this film for years. So, let’s answer the question once and for all: is the Village really bad?
The Actually Bad Stuff – Zero Tact
Undeniably, the most objectively bad thing in this film is Adrien Brody’s Noah Percy. This unspeakably distasteful portrayal (and inaccurate) portrayal of a person who even vaguely resembles Brody’s character. It’s so bad, in fact, that it makes me squimish to just think about it. If someone asks me “Is the Village really bad?” and they cite Noah Percy as the reason, I will find it very hard to argue with them.
The Arguably Bad Stuff – Do the Village Twist
What a lot of people didn’t like about The Village is the supposedly stupid twist. But if you think about it, this particular twist was no different than any other from any previous Shyamalan film. I think people just grew tired of “twisting”.
Personally, I actually like the sharp left turn the plot takes two-thirds into the film. I think it was a very smart way of getting the point across. And this brings me to the reason why I think the answer to “Was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village (2004) really that bad?” is a definite “NO!”.
The Arguably Good Stuff – Relatable Parenthood
If I had the means to do so, I would also protect my children from the world. Though many can easily object to the believability of the plot or the quality of its delivery, I cannot help but admire the parents in this film.
My dad sacrificed a good chunk of his life to ensure that my brother and I never lacked food, shelter or education. The possibility of not being able to provide for, or protect, a disabled child is terrifying to me. Now, don’t get me wrong: as much as Shyamalan gets right about the protective nature of parenthood, he gets wrong about people with disabilities. However, I can see where his heart was, at least with some of this stuff.
The Actually Good Stuff – Amazing Acting
The acting is amazing. Well, leaving Noah Percy aside, the acting is amazing. In fact, I strongly believe this is the role which cemented Joaquin Phoenix as an acting powerhouse.
On that same note, Bryce Dallas Howard is quite possibly one of the only people working in Hollywood right now who is uncapable of delivering a performance that is any less than stellar.
So: Was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village (2004) really that bad?
In one word? No. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s for everyone. And I think it gets a lot of stuff wrong. But I personally liked the film and I found the parents’ plight a relatable one. Shyamalan missed the mark by a country mile on how to treat some really sensitive subject matter.
But we shouldn’t always see just the worst in films (or people). The fact that The Village has some really questionable moments doesn’t fully detract from some of its heartwarming, heartbreaking and ultimately relatable family affairs.