Produced: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, Dominic Catanzarite, Kevin Frakes, Buddy Patrick, Ashwin Rajan, Steven Schneider, M. Night Shyamalan
Directed: M. Night Shyamalan
Written: M. Night Shyamalan
Major Cast: James McAvoy, Betty Buckley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Izzie Coffey
I’ve seen most of M. Night Shyamalan movies although I took a pass of The Last Airbender and After Earth. I don’t think I need to go into detail why this is the case, but am curious now to see how much of these movies deserve the low scores they received. Shyamalan has been nominated for both an Oscar and several Razzie awards. He was nominated for Best Director (Oscar) and Best Original Screenplay (Oscar) for The Sixth Sense in 1999. He was nominated for Worst Director (Razzie) and Worst Screenplay (Razzie) for The Happening in 2008 and After Earth in 2013. He won the Razzie award for Worst Director and Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2010. Okay, maybe I won’t watch this one.
I looked at my pile of unwatched movies on my shelf and decided upon Split. I had read some good reviews on it while ignoring the bad ones. Sure, they had some validity, but in my view if you have a talented actor, such as James McAvoy, you can forgive other shortcomings. Yes, people can’t scale flat vertical walls by their strength alone because we don’t have anything attached to our feet and hands that suction to surfaces. Yes, the story was a little disjointed when it came to transitioning from the past to the present of the character Casey Cooke. I’m not well versed in shooting scenes, but they weren’t so jarring that it took me out of the film.
Some people have a hard time suspending reality when things don’t make logical sense in movies. I can see the point of some finding it hard that someone random, anyone, out there in the folds of the script didn’t clue into the character’s unusual behaviors and report him to the police. But, viewers and/or critics didn’t write the script so therefore M. Night Shyamalan did what he set out to do and achieved it. Let’s not forget it took nine million to make, but earned 40 million opening week, and 138 million so far.
The movie progressed at a decent pace, and the interactions among the girls might have been a little wooden, but I didn’t finish the movie thinking I had just wasted two hours of my precious time. I’m not going into much detail about the movie because I don’t want to spoil it except to say it’s about a man who has different personalities, attributed to his childhood, and how he copes with them. I wondered what would happen to James McAvoy’s character at the end, which was a little bit of a surprise. It definitely could’ve gone the other route, but Shyamalan’s vision persisted.
I’ve been vague and unfocused compared to other recommendations, and sifting through the muddle you might not be able to recognize I’m applauding this movie. This is a movie of what can happen to individuals who are subjected to prolonged periods of mental and physical stress. We don’t need to look far for the unintended consequences of today’s institutions which includes super max prisons, the armed forces, and on personal level, families. It also speaks of the fragility and strength among people. What might break one person, the next will have struggle, but come out with a greater resolve in the end. So yes, I found the character of Casey Cooke the most intriguing after James McAvoy’s character’s many personalities.
I could speak more to his different personalities, but feel that is the genius of M. Night Shyamalan. He doesn’t need to hit every little detail so it bounces off your face. He lets you do some of your own thinking. Yes, he could’ve imparted a little more backstory of the main characters, but it wasn’t necessary. Yes, he could’ve made it more realistic so less people would write bad reviews, but most of us know he focuses on topics that aren’t 100% viewed as legitimate by everyone. This is one of those movies where you could either either throw everything into it including a car chase or you choose deliberately and use only what is necessary to propel the story forward. Shyamalan picked the latter, which was the right choice. I conclude that you should watch Split and not compare it to The Sixth Sense or any of his other movies, but to see it as its own animal. Pun intended.
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