So, regardless of what you may already have heard or read about The Village, I want to say a little something about it myself.
The most important thing I have to say about it is to make it clear that the dominant story thread in this movie, the defining element of the entire piece is the central romantic/love story. It is not (strictly speaking) a “thriller”, though it does have some quite shocking moments here and there. I’ve seen it twice so far, and for me most of the shocks were only intense because of the emotional hooks built up by the dramatic core of the movie – not because the wicked witch jumped out from behind whatever, but because I was genuinely engaged in the trials the characters were facing.
Trying to pick apart this movie, trying to figure out its twists and turns before they are revealed is like trying to use forensics to determine why a flower is beautiful. Also, importantly, figuring out through forensics that the flower is, in the end, a flower, does not tell you anything of its beauty.
I recommend that you go into this movie expecting only a finely crafted dramatic piece with amazing settings, skilled actors, beautiful cinematography, careful writing and powerful direction.
If you go in looking for a shocking twist that must be figured out, for a thriller with aliens or ghosts around every corner and central players’ roles dramatically changed by the man behind the curtain in the final scenes, you are very likely to be disappointed. Assuming you go to the movies to enjoy them, AND that you do not enjoy being disappointed, this is not a good route to take.
For those of you who have not already heard, the real star of The Village is a relative unknown, Bryce Dallas Howard. She lights up this film in a way few expected, and adds depth and character to the slowest, quietest, least visually interesting scenes with the subtleties of her performance. Some actors in this piece could have been replaced without harming the overall picture, but were Bryce removed from the cast, The Village would have fallen flat. I can recommend this film on her performance and presence alone.
The rest of the cast is very powerful and does an amazing job. William Hurt’s performance is limited in a careful way by the director, but it only works to force him to find his character through the limitation. I didn’t notice it the first time through, but then read so many people point it out that I watched for it the second time – you never see a closeup on his face, and only rarely see his face beyond profile, then only at a distance. Considering he plays the “leader” of the entire village – inasmuch as they have a single leader – this is an interesting and complex choice.
There are too many excellent players in this piece to list them all and all their shining points – watch it for yourself and enjoy.
The music, particularly the violin pieces that are the cornerstone of the aural-emotionscape of the film, give real power to a lot of scenes. You will feel it.
I will do a discussion soon in my blog about the deeper meanings and potential deeper meanings in The Village soon. Right now I just suggest you go watch it with an open mind.