It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Letters from the Big Man" makes no secret that it involves the mysterious forest creature known as Sasquatch, or more popularly as Bigfoot. No wonder. Legends about Bigfoot have inspired more than 20 previous films, from exploitation pictures to the big budget "Harry and the Hendersons." Two things are different about this film. It is serious, and it isn't shy about showing us the creature. Instead of blurred shots of something vaguely seen through trees, we see the Sasquatch clearly and even in contemplative close-ups.
The story involves a Forest Service employee named Sarah Smith (Lily Rabe), who is on the rebound from a failed relationship and accepts a commission to study the rainwater run-off in a remote area devastated by forest fires. She packs camping gear, heads into the wilderness, measures the depths of streams, and enjoys her solitude so much that she actively repels a young Green activist named Sean (Jason Butler Harner) when she meets him on a trail. Lily Rabe's performance exudes self-confidence and determination (she's the daughter of Jill Clayburgh and playwright David Rabe.)
Sarah is aware she's being followed. She thinks Sean is the stalker. In a gradual way, without a dramatic turning point, she absorbs the fact that her shadow is Sasquatch. She isn't electrified with curiosity, nor is she frightened. She accepts his presence, and he accepts hers. Often she is aware of him without seeing him. A few shots show him transparent, hinting at metaphysical powers or invisibility.
Sarah keeps a journal and makes a great many sketches and watercolors. She also treats herself in the evening to red wine -- a great deal of wine, actually, considering how hard supplies must be to come by in these remote Oregon woods. The activist, Sean, encounters her again and this time they do a little necking on the deck of a Forest Service cabin while Sasquatch watches them from behind a tree with -- what? Curiosity? Disappointment? His eyes seem very sad.