POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
There’s a certain stigmatism that surrounds M Night Shyamalan over the past decade or so. And that stigmatism is that he became big headed and his ego got in the way of his work. For a long time he kept producing awful film after awful film. Some of these movies include The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. Ever since 2015’s The Visit he’s started to go on the up and his latest flick Split shows that he is slowly getting back to his best.
With the plot summary from IMDB Split is about “After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others”. It stars James McAvoy (Filth, X-Men: Apocalypse), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Morgan) and Betty Buckley (Carrie, The Happening), and it’s directed by M.Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable).
I loved this film. It was a great thrill ride, and James McAvoy steals the show. He is so good in the film that words cannot describe his performance. It’s potentially an Oscar winning performance. What I liked most about it, is how he brings each character to life and gives them unique qualities. For example, the character of the young boy Hedwig and his love for hip-hop/rap or when Patricia mentions adding paprika to the sandwiches. It is these little tropes that really make his characters stand out. Also Anya Taylor-Joy was great in the film as well. Along with McAvoy she does a lot of heavy lifting in the film and her talent really shows by playing such a damaged character. She really knew how to bring sadness and strength to the character. You can see why she has been nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star. I was impressed with how her story was shown through flashback. At first it was slightly confusing, as audience members we didn’t really know the meaning of the flashbacks. However that is how M Night works and it is all subtle hints to how Anya’s character behaves when McAvoy’s character is present.
However there are parts in Split that really don’t work and might deter/put people off the film. It’s always difficult to portray mental illness in a film without offending a few people as I have seen on Twitter and Facebook. I feel the film does an okay job portraying the dissociative identity disorder, the portrayal is no different to Fight Club. Although the filmmaker could have shown the illness in maybe a positive light with the Betty Buckley character potentially showing the more human side of it. Another nit-pick I have is that I would have liked to have seen more of the other two kidnapped girl’s backstory. The reason why you connect and root to the Anya Taylor- Joy character is because it is fleshed out as you learn more about her. With the other two you don’t and when they die, there is no shock value, and frankly I didn’t care about their fate. One other thing that the movie failed to show was all the twenty four personalities. Even though we see seven personalities, I was still hoping to see all twenty four in some form or other, nevertheless I was still impressed with the McAvoy’s portrayal of the different character.
Overall I enjoyed the movie and personally I am rating it as a Must See Film in The Cinema! The performance of James McAvoy alone is worth the price of admission. Shyamalan really shines and there is hope that he will recapture the promise he showed with his past efforts. There is a nice little post credits scene which some people may or may not get. I won’t spoil it but I will say it links back to a previous Shyamalan film and I did punch the air in celebration.