The Village

The Village


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The village people are mindful of each other. Their community has a strength, built upon trust and mutual dependence. The young are blessed with innocence. They do not seek the sinful delights of "the towns", wherever they may be, content to live in isolation, ignorance and fear.

Although their language, dress and manners suggest a communal 19th century sect, on the lines of the Amish, religious artefacts are noticeable by their absence. More prominent are cathedral bells, placed at strategic points, which are rung when Those We Don't Speak Of have been sighted in open ground.

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Elaborate defences, including watch towers at the edge of the forest and a line of flaming torches, are set up to protect the village and deter these mythical beasts. "We do not go into their woods," teacher and elder Edward Walker (William Hurt) explains. "They do not come into our valleys." Except sometimes, when every family takes shelter in priest holes under the floor.

The creatures contain the villagers with the threat of attack, making escape, or exploration, too dangerous to contemplate, enabling their gentle good life to continue without interruption, or outside influence.

M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) is a storyteller. Unlike Tarantino and the video store aficionados, you won't find references to other movies, or cinematic pastiche in his work. He is very clear about what he wants and, since he writes, produces and directs, has the luxury - some might say indulgence - of absolute control.

At the centre of The Village is Ivy Walker's love for Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix). She is strong-willed, blind and positively overflowing with good intentions. He is shy to the point of disability, although oddly wise. He tells his mother (Sigourney Weaver), "There are secrets in every corner of this village."

Slowly, as the film unfolds, Shyamalan exposes these secrets, which is why audiences must treat the twists in the plot with respect. Like everything he does, the sum of its parts gives the whole a unique grandeur, even if it is possible to criticise credibility at certain key moments.

The ensemble cast performs with admirable generosity and concern. Bryce Dallas Howard is outstanding in the defining role of Ivy, whose courage and tenacity gives the film its abiding sense of optimism.

If love is blind, Ivy has eyes to see.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2004
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The secrets and passions of an isolated community, trapped by the fear of mythical beasts.
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Read more The Village reviews:

Josh Morrall *****
Jennie Kermode ****1/2
David Haviland **

Director: M Night Shyamalan

Writer: M Night Shyamalan

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson, Cherry Jones, Celia Weston, John Christopher Jones, Frank Collison

Year: 2004

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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