February 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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M. Night Shyamalan has always seemed like a kind of sad cautionary tale to me. He burst onto the scene in 1999 with one of the best debuts of a new director ever. “The Sixth Sense” was a remarkable film in every respect. It was hard to tamp down Hollywood’s expectations and, perhaps, that got the better of him, because every succeeding film was not as good as the previous one and, by the time “The Village” came around, they were just plain awful, and have stayed awful ever since. Until now. With “Split,” he seems to have finally found his groove again. While not nearly as good as “The Sixth Sense,” this is certainly one of his best. It’s a taut thriller with steady action and a good dose of creepy. James McAvoy gives his best performance in years, and demonstrates what a talented actor he is. As, Kevin, the traumatized man with 23 personalities living inside of him, McAvoy manages to give each personality we see his/her own distinctness. The audience can tell by the sound of his voice, the way he carries his shoulders, the arc of an eyebrow or the purse of his lips, whether he is Dennis or Patricia or Barry or Hedwig. It was a brilliant performance to watch and made the movie. Beyond that, this remains just a good film in the genre. It builds tension nicely and keeps the audience guessing. Shyamalan has avoided the heavy theatrics of the game-changing twist that made “The Sixth Sense” but ruined so many of his other films. This time, he relies on the strength of his performers and a well-written story. There is an intriguing twist in the final moments but it’s more of an add on than an attempt to rewrite the story. Overall, this film was a lot of fun. I hope Shyamalan can keep this new momentum up.


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