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Split
 
Year : 2017
Country : United-States


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DokBrowne  [ 8.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

Wait, what the--is this a good M. Night Shyamalan movie? Unconditionally good even, not like "The Visit" which was "good, if you're 8 years old, have no experience with movie twists or found footage, and think that amateur youth rapping is a real treat"? 2017 barely started and we already have its biggest movie surprise. Oh wait this counts as a 2016 movie, doesn't it? Sadly, there goes James McAvoy's deserved awards season consideration.

I remember when people were blown away by Edward Norton playing duel personalities in 1996's "Primal Fear", and he was fairly believable at it, but c'mon if he got an Oscar nomination for that work, McAvoy should get a double nomination for this, or have a special category invented for his performance: Best 6 Individual Performances in a Single Film. Thanks to Shyamalan's characteristic deliberation, his dramatic lingering upon every beat for maximized suspense, McAvoy not only performs several different characters with colorful exactitude but has those extra seconds over and over again throughout the movie to fully flower as these shards of a troubled person. With no special effects assistance (except for some stunt work at the end), McAvoy alters his entire body language and the compositions of facial expressions to inhabit all of these externalized states of mind, in a spooky, electrifying masterclass of acting. I kinda wish they'd just start casting him for multiple parts within the same movies from now on; he could convincingly do it. Even if the rest of this movie was junk, I would still recommend it as The Amazing McAvoy Show.

It's not junk, though, but an intense, creative return to form for the director, that I would argue isn't just on par with Shyamalan's early winning streak but actually more entertaining and cleverly thought-out (without even relying on a twist!) than either "The Sixth Sense" or "Unbreakable", each well-crafted "Twilight Zone" episodes but oppressively toned and with much more conspicuously flawed scripts. As usual he works in shades of psychological backstory drama to substantiate the popcorn-flick genre thrills on the surface, and it harmonizes very well with the end results of the story. What's more, he's clearly done some research on split personality, and has fun conjuring a speculative "what if..." hypothetical from its studies that may or may not be sound science but still just barely exaggerates the plausibility of psychosomatic transformation. Real props to Shyamalan of all people for keeping the supernatural elements grounded yet still making this an extravaganza of horror. Between McAvoy's formidable powers, Shyamalan's playfully bold and expertly suspense-ratcheting mise en scene (just like in the old days! He totally lost this gift in all movies he made from 2006-2015, but now it's back, at long last), Anya Taylor-Joy's continually impressive acting instincts and overall screen presence as the main kidnap victim, the eerie implications of this subject matter (to what limits COULD a person alter their body chemistry if they truly believed it..?), and the devilish delight of the movie's pitch itself, this is a stomping success. This year's "10 Cloverfield Lane", in a way.

(vague spoilers)
...In a way that includes a last minute act of Extended Cinematic Universe staging, which worked perfectly in "10CL" if you ask me, but is an insult to "Split". Whether there was a historical reason for this bonus scene or not, it undermines the integrity of this story for no other reason than to desperately score a high five from movie fans with strong memories, and maybe suggest that everything in moviedom will eventually be converted to franchise infrastructuring. My only consolation after watching Shyamalan fumble like this at the 1-yard line is that it does only take place during the credits, so if you watch the movie straight through and just turn it off as soon as the first end credit appears, its lame retconning can be ignored and won't ruin anything.

 
Weighted Rating : 7.0
No. Ratings : 1
No. Reviews : 1


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2017 5
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