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I’ve always been a fan of M. Night Shyamalan.
Just like many others, the first movie I watched by him was The Sixth Sense. I was very young so I need to watch it again. Same story for Signs. But I have better memories from The Village, Unbreakable and The Happening. I haven’t watched any following ones except for Split. I found The Village amazing, and despite all the critics I’ve enjoyed The Happening enough to watch it several times.
Shyamalan came from nowhere when he brought us The 6th Sense, and since then, it felt unstoppable because of his incredible first movie. And now, here he is again, delivering Split. And regardless of the public opinion of his work, let me explain you why Split is absolutely remarkable.
Shyamalan Doesn’t Need To Prove Anything As Writer And Director
He made a name for himself thanks to The 6th Sense, but also by writing and directing his movies. In that way, he has pulled us deeper into all the worlds he has created until now. This is what I’ve always loved about him, from how he writes to how he films. I think that he has this incredible talent of developing twisted stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat while culminating in such epic endings. This is specially true in Split.
There’s also his signature – adding a deeper message with several topics thrown into the mix. Where many directors fail by either not developing a topic enough or doing it too much, Shyamalan achieves the perfect balance. He explores the right subjects deeply, while integrating others by association. In Split, we get to discover DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). And it’s through this mental disorder that topics like survival, braveness, adaptability and broken people are explored.
The perfectionist eye of the director – every single thing displayed will have a meaning or purpose. The meaningful shots and the position of the camera will guide us on where to focus. The story of a guy with 23 different identities who kidnaps and holds captive three teenage girls gives a lot of material to display hidden meanings. Because of this, it’s the type of movie that you can watch several times and discover a new piece of information each time you do. Though even if you’re an adept of watching movies only once (like Nya), it still works great.
The Unstoppable Tension Will Leave You Restless
You get caught into the plot straight away.
Just like in the trailer, it starts right with James McAvoy getting into the car and assaulting the three teenage girls. We will then follow their way through survival behind closed doors. Our only link to the outside world will be the same as Kevin’s (James McAvoy), his shrink. Of course the plot is focused on the main teenager, Casey, played by Anya Taylor‑Joy, but the two others will play their part and increase the tension. The idea of Casey being smarter and resourceful compared to her two ‘friends’ helps you to focus on her. No, she is not the “super-hero” victim that will get out easily. Her two friends also portray standard teenagers of nowadays, half naked, terrified, lacking rational thoughts upon facing a situation in which they’re powerless.
Shyamalan has succeeded in creating a movie that during the whole time makes you wait excitedly to see what happens next, switching between the ‘basement’ and the outside world incarnated by the shrink.
It’s impossible to get bored while the tension increases and you learn more about Casey’s past through flashbacks, until you’re dying to know how it all will end. The brilliant acting helps all of these feelings come to life.
James McAvoy is Impressive
I’ve only seen him before in Wanted and X-Men: First Class. I didn’t have any feelings for him as an actor. In my opinion he was nothing special and I went to watch Split without any expectations. That’s when he blew my mind. I rarely witness such good acting, and the plot definitely allowed him to show his real potential. Kevin, the character he plays, has 23 different personalities. We may not see all of them, but from the 8 different personalities James McAvoy plays, he’s amazing. There’s 4 main personalities that include a 9 year old kid, a matriarch, a compulsive OCD guy and a fashionista. It’s incredible how James is able to switch from one to another until he incarnates the final one, the Beast.
The rebellious Anya Taylor‑Joy fits the mood of the movie. I’m not sure what to think of her as an actress yet, but this character is perfect for her. I can’t even imagine her in a different role now, but I’d be definitely curious to watch more of her.
After Nocturnal Animals, it’s so good to get to watch another incredible thriller. And from Shyamalan!
Even though some people might have been disappointed lately with The Happening (even though I liked it) and After Earth, he comes back fresh, and with a masterpiece. The whole expansion of Unbreakable is amazing, and even though we are far from the Marvel/DC superheroes series, the vision of Shyamalan is original, realistic and deep. This is a whole new vision that we already had from Unbreakable, and now he digs even deeper. In the end, he does prove that you can break all the rules and re-adapt the genres in any way you want.
To me, this is Platinum.