I’ve been a fan of Shyamalan movies for awhile. I even liked Lady in the Water, which to me was the only movie we had from him in the past ten years. (I like to pretend The Happening and The Last Airbender don’t exist as they were unpardonable sins against mankind). So when I started seeing commercials for a movie called Split, that actively used Shyamalan’s name and didn’t try to hide him in the background (ala Devil and After Earth), I was very intrigued.
Split is a story revolving around the kidnapping of three young high school students, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula. Their kidnapper, played by James McAvoy, suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, or the colloquial term for multiple personality disorder). His purposes for kidnapping the girls are very unclear at first, but start to come to light as the movie progresses. The story develops over the course of three essential and overlapping narratives: the kidnapping and the girls attempting to escape, the kidnapper and his interactions with his therapist, and flashbacks from Taylor-Joy’s Casey and her character’s own past.
The interweaving of all of these threads is essential for the final act of the movie and eventual resolution. Each thread advances the story in its own way, keeping you engaged and involved up until the last scene.
James McAvoy’s portrayal of the distinct personalities of Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig truly showcased his acting abilities. If an actor of lesser caliber had been called upon, this movie might very well have been too difficult to watch. His expressions, different ‘voices,’ and subtle body language differences for each personality was a magnificent performance. If you see the movie for one reason alone, his acting would be reason enough.
Anya Taylor-Joy does not have as varied a role and her character is a stark contrast. Introverted and withdrawn, wounded but with a quiet resilience and determination, she is a wonderful counterpoint to McAvoy. I have not seen her in any other movie, but I believe we will see more from this young woman in the future.
As with all Shyamalan movies, people will be anticipating a twist. I would recommend not looking for that or trying to anticipate any twist during the movie. Go into this spoiler-free and take the movie for the ride it is. Enjoy the story, enjoy the acting, and enjoy the throwback to old Shyamalan. He is back and I look forward to seeing where he goes from there.
TL;DR Summary: Split is a solid movie with a superb performance by James McAvoy. This movie is “classic Shyamalan” and worth seeing. Enjoy the ride.
1/23/2017 02:50:07 pm
Agreed on the unpardonable sins. I was so disappointed in the handling of "The Last Airbender". When I saw the trailer for "Split", and McAvoy as Patricia, I was riveted. He *was* Patricia. Hoping to catch it soon!
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