Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Written & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography By: Michael Gioulakis
Editor: Luke Ciarrocchi
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, Brad William Henke, Neal Huff
When three girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 different personalities they have to work out which of those personalities will help them escape and which of those personalities will try to stop them
James McAvoy performance is extraordinary. His performance comes out of nowhere and he really hits it out of the park. Never seen him be so impressive in a film before. Though some of the acting in the personalities is hammy. It is clear he is up to the challenge and having fun with it. While giving an worthwhile performance.
Shyamalan has always seemed to be Alfred Hitchcock influenced with the twists and turns as well as the camerawork which feels measured and planned. So that there is a constant style even when it is supposed to be going haywire. Though always mixed with Steven Spielberg as his films are more open to the populace and have hope. As well as more mainstream appeal.
The film is emotional to a degree but also has a reserve cool and calculating factor to it. As it seems more designed than fly by the seat of your pants and full of happy accidents.
The film is designed to always make you feel uncomfortable and squirm to a degree. As it feels not only cerebral but awkward and ill fitting.
No real twist but allows for heavy tension. Leaving you wanting to find a mystery and solve it. As the film offers surprises but in a more matter of fact way where they are revealed rather than told.
The film offers other characters history. To somewhat rival his or allowing us to get the full picture into their psyche as well as revealing certain deeds that are being done.
The film also really only has one scene or action where your suspicion of disbelief is truly challenged involving his psychiatrist.
There is also a set-up that doesn't really pay off in the ways you are expecting it too. Though it is quite revealing and adds a sense of realism and throwing the audience off.
The film keeps you interested and invested to the point of excitement all the way through.
This is part of M. Night Shyamalan resurgence and comeback to a degree. He has kept making movies over the years to diminishing degree. Though once he started having his movies rely less and less on twists as the main selling point the films got better. I have never been a huge fan of his movie THE SIXTH SENSE, but absolutely love UNBREAKABLE. I thought SIGNS was just ok. And didn't really enjoy a thing except for the film he wrote and produced DEVIL. Then he surprised with the decent and surprisingly entertaining THE VISIT. Which seemed to show a comeback and then with this film it feels like he has learned a few lessons and is coming back strong. He still has the same craft but is using it in a more direct way and remembering to entertain and not out think the audience. Especially doing it with films that feel more homegrown and less like studio by products
The film ends up feeling like a tight thriller that only in it's last act becomes something annoy more fanciful.
He is through finding himself and has carved up a niche to define his films with his own signature. He definitely had defined a style by the sixth sense but needed to work out storytelling and not depend on twists so much and focus on character while keeping it interesting for the audience. So just as this film is about indenting it also shows the director coming more into his own
The female characters are all believable and play their types well. They seem like in any other film they might have a chance to last. But the film telegraphs their fate early on even though you have hope because of their innocence. But they have heard stories and seen films in this internet age and know these stories don't usually work out well for them. The smartest one is the one who seems to tempt fate as what is out there for her might be just as bad. While the other girls have spunk and promise if they escape
It's an intense experience watching this film it not as tight as some might hope it feels almost like a restrained Brian de Palma movie at least until the third act. So I. Essence t also feels like a slight Alfred Hitchcock film or st least one that is obviously inspired by him it has black humor at times aka Hitchcock a feeling. If dread and things being off even if explained.
When the ending is revealed. It is like an ice Easter egg but also a level of excitement as this is a film that is a sequel, but the audience has no idea that it is. Going in thinking they are just watching a thriller. It also ends up being an origin story. As M. Night Shyamalan has always said he envisioned UNBREAKABLE as the first in a trilogy. This obviously being the second and the perfect time to make it. As when he was in his twist phase everyone would expect it or try to link his movies together or make sure he wasn't repeating himself. Now that his career has cooled a bit and seemed to be making more low budget genre films that are home spun. No one would see it coming. Now we have two origin story movies so the third and last film is when absolute evil and a modern day superhero both seemingly unbreakable battle one another. Makes sense in a superhero movie climate. Only showcasing a more dramatic net over it. Not seeming as over the top. That is still a spectacle, but more Relatable for the audience.
It even has the reveal after the credits have seemed to go by. Like most superhero films these days.
As I said before my criticisms are the belief that knowing something is off the psychiatrist didn't bring a weapon or call the cops or have some assistance in seeing him. Is a bit hard to believe and if she did would have upped the film's victims by one.
Also the subplot where we think she is learning how to hunt as a little girl and the tips leading to her stopping or hunting him down. Though more reveal the sexual abuse she has and probably still is recovering and has a frame that makes her fragile but also a fighter who hurts herself.
Other actor's I would have chosen to play the lead in SPLIT. Only because if I was making the film James McAvoy wouldn't have been my first choice. He wasn’t either apparently. When Joaquin Phoenix and the production couldn't reach a contract agreement, James McAvoy was cast in the lead. Thankfully here he hits it out of the park in what could be seen as a happy accident. This is the first time I have seen him be really good and memorable in a role.
Edward Norton (been there done that)
Joseph Gordon Levitt