It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
When you find out that a motion picture has had its title changed to the almost magnificently generic “The Lovers” from a rather less plain but still not-exactly-staggeringly-original “Singularity,” you know that a post-production conceptual shift of some magnitude has occurred. And post-production is pretty much the last part of the filmmaking process in which to introduce that kind of shift.
Not to get too inside-baseball, but sometimes there’s a very good reason that certain movies get stealthy on-demand releases during what industry members frequently refer to as “dumping season.” This very unfortunate film, directed by Roland Joffé from his own script (the story is from Indian screenwriter Ajey Jhankar), opens with some deep-sea diving action that recalls James Cameron’s “Titanic”; as does the quest of the divers in question: they are pursuing a particular artifact. In any event, one of the divers is stuck, and so team commander Josh Hartnett goes down to rescue her (she’s his wife...oh, wait, now all of a sudden it’s “The Abyss”) and in so doing almost drowns. Once Hartnett’s character from our-not-too-distant-future (lots of blue lighting and a sleek futuristic vehicle are the most prominent visual signifiers of this time frame) flounders on life support, the movie goes back in time several hundred years, to India in the late 1700s, where a British captain named James Stewart (really!) also played by Hartnett, is engaged in a lot of challenging-to-follow martial intrigue that leads him into a doomed romance with a regal warrior woman played by Bipasha Basu, one of the premiere leading ladies of Bollywood.
The scenic cinematography by Ben Nott is often beautiful, which distracts, at times, from the fact that the storyline is both convoluted in the most gratuitous way possible and that it’s enacted in the most unengaging way imaginable. Every now and then one will be shaken awake by some of the most stultifying clichéd dialogue concocted in all of narrative movie history, to wit:
“Tell me of this Captain Stewart.”