I think it’s safe to say M. Night Shyamalan’s films are hit and miss. There was a time when that wasn’t the case. The Sixth Sense, followed by the superb Unbreakable made it seem like Shyamalan was the next big thing, the director to keep an eye on. But the next few films he released seem to falter in quality. Once The Happening and The Last Airbender were released, it seemed Shyamalan was washed up. Even his Will Smith starring vehicle After Earth didn’t revive his career.
Well, after his last film The Visit and now Split, Shyamalan is finally headed in the right direction again.
Split focuses on three young women who are kidnapped and held captive by a man named Kevin, played by James McAvoy. Very quickly, the three realize that there’s something off with their captor. He suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder, or what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. Sometimes he’s Dennis, who has OCD and can’t stand things that aren’t clean. Sometimes he’s Patricia, a British woman who tries to keep Dennis (and the others) in check. Sometimes he’s Hedwig, a nine year old.
Kevin actually has 23 personalities, although we really only see a handful. He occasionally sees a psychiatrist named Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who knows he has 23 personalities but typically only deals with one: a wanna be fashion designer named Barry. She has a hunch Kevin has done something bad but can’t get Barry to talk about it.
The acting in the film is very, very good. McAvoy is brilliant as each personality and they all feel individual and different. The main girl captive is played by Anya Taylor-Joy and does a great job. I’m not familiar with Taylor-Joy but it’ll be interesting to see her next performance.
The film meanders a bit and gets borderline ludicrous. I had actually kind of checked out, finding it to difficult to believe, until the final scene really connects things and ends the film with a bang. In fact, it completely turned my view on the movie around. I was thinking it was an average film but once it ended, I couldn’t help but smile and bump it up a few points.
I give it a B+