Dir. M. Night Shyamalan
PG 13 / 1h 57m / Horror, Thriller
We are what we believe we are.
Shyamalan is 100% hit or miss. There’s no tip toeing around it. The man is a genius one year and an incredible idiot the next – he’s so unpredictable and it’s kind of exhausting being let down so much when you are nice enough to want to treat everything he releases as successful as The Sixth Sense but you’re left with The Happening after two hours of deep emotional investment.
I remember where I was when I first saw the trailer for Split – I was in Annapolis, Maryland, about to eat the most amazing Southern Boy’s Eggs Benedict at a too-rustic brunch spot by the bay. I remember immediately wanting to share it with my husband, but I don’t remember if I did. I forgot about it after that freakin good eggs benedict. Fast forward about three months and it sneakily released on me. Picture us on a Sunday morning in an empty theater with popcorn and a raspberry sprite. Picture my face when Split ended because it is, without a doubt, the BEST Shyamalan has to offer in cinema.
That may not be saying much for some of you, but it means a lot to me. I have a frustrating relationship with Shyamalan. But I also have a background in psychology and disorders so maybe I’m partial. Or maybe this is actually a well put together, well acted, successful film.
The plot in a few words: three girls get abducted by a man that suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. His name is Kevin but he has 22 other names. He is 23 different people. There is a 24th identity forming that thrusts Kevin and the girls into a suspenseful couple of hours that don’t end disappointingly.
You know how some cinema is like staple cinema for you and it sets the bar for all other viewing experiences? Well. James McAvoy. Is now. Absolutely everything. Y’all. I was intrigued by the plot, but my god I was blown away by his performance. His portrayal of Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig and Barry were all so completely individual and unique and he moved through them like water. His facial expressions and mannerisms, different for each personality, moved so effortlessly and so damn impressively. I couldn’t imagine anyone else pulling this off. I can’t imagine anyone else impressing me this tremendously in the future. He had me laughing, loving, hating and being scared of different versions of himself minutes apart. Truly I have NEVER felt an affinity like this to any performance before February 26th, 2017.
If McAvoy is not holding an Oscar for best actor this time next year I’m giving this shit up and having a baby. (I might have a baby anyway.) (I probably won’t stop writing who am I kidding.)
And! Rare for Shyamalan, as in he’s never done this before, he actually tied this installment into his Unbreakable universe and it wasn’t a disaster. Of course it doesn’t make sense if you’ve never seen Unbreakable, so I will go ahead and recommend that one too. It was on his better side, The Bruce of Willis shines as David Dunn, your regular every day super human and Samuel L Jackson is a very breakable man. And I love it because I hate him.
Split has nestled itself into my top 20 favorite films of all time just from sheer amazement of human ability. It’s worth every second of your precious time.