It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Here is a fable with the most unlikely ingredients, and yet, like all fables, it will work if we allow it to.
"Where the River Runs Black" takes place along an isolated Brazilian river system, where the streams penetrate the heart of darkness. The Indian tribes that inhabit that world tell of a freshwater dolphin that transforms itself into a beautiful woman. She seduces a young man and a child is born to them. It is said that the child, half human and half dolphin, can still be seen swimming where the river runs black.
The story is told in flashback, and the narrator is a missionary priest (Charles Durning). At first, we wonder why there needs to be a narrator. But, of course, legends always need narrators, because after magical events have transformed all of the main characters, there has to be somebody left for the witnesses to tell the story to.
And so we see Durning, silently, solemnly sitting under an umbrella that shields him from the jungle sun, being paddled upstream for a meeting with the young priest (Peter Horton) who has established a mission there. The jungle atmosphere is extraordinary - the entire movie was shot on location in the Brazilian rain forest - and in such locations, we can almost believe magical legends because so little else seems real.