In the Dark

What’s the Big Idea?

The Village
Produced by Touchstone and Blinding Edge Pictures
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures

The Manchurian Candidate
Produced and distributed byParamount Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Screenplay by Daniel Pyne from the novel by Richard Condon
George Axelrod (1962 screenplay)

María, Full of Grace (María, llena eres de gracia)
Produced by HBO Films
Written and directed by Joshua Marston
Distributed by Fine Line Features

Idea films are ungainly creatures.  Their ambitions may be noble, but a misstep or two sends them toppling before our embarrassed eyes, as M. Night Shyamalan’s latest illustrates.

In The Village, Shyamalan has returned to the big idea that has preoccupied him in the past: the problem of evil.  His earlier films asked why pain, suffering, death, and destruction are permitted in a world that is supposed to be good.  The Village looks at this theme from the other direction.  What happens to people who try to live within a cloistered innocence?  With an excessively allegorical exposition, Shyamalan tells the tale of a late-19th-century village led by elders who have declared the surrounding forest off-limits to its residents.  The woods, they...

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