It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Box of Moonlight" tells the story of a man who lost the key to living somewhere along the way. His name is Al Fountain, he's an engineer on an out-of-town factory job, and the foreman describes him as "one of those guys who goes through life like a robot." His wife calls him "Mr. Clockwork" because he always does exactly what he says he will do, precisely when he says he will do it.
John Turturro plays Al as a sad and lonely Everyman, in white shirts and black slacks. When the factory job is eliminated and they're paid their bonuses and sent home, he doesn't go home. He rents a car and stays in the area, and asks the motel clerk if he's ever heard of Splatchee Lake--a place he remembers being taken to when he was a kid. God knows if Al has ever been happy since.
This is a man going through some kind of a crisis. He just got his first gray hair. He is beginning to see things backward: Water runs up into the tap, children pedal their bikes in reverse. He has commitments but no contacts; when he calls home, he doesn't even want to speak to his son, maybe because he has nothing to say to him or anyone else.
Splatchee Lake is a disappointment. An elderly couple tell him it's filled up with formaldehyde: "You step in it and it'll burn your feet off." It's not only nature that fails him. Sex and religion don't help, either; he makes a baffling call to a phone sex service, and meets a man who has seen a vision of Jesus in the flames on a billboard barbecue grill.