Friday, August 11, 2017

Movie Review: Split (2017)

Split (2017) written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Three young women are abducted by a guy (James McAvoy) who has twenty-three different personalities vying for control. The girls meet three or four of those personalities in the opening twenty minutes of the film. Some of those personalities clearly want to do harm; others are friendly and would be helpful except they are aware of the other personalities and nervous about what could happen. The problem is interesting and creates unexpected challenges for the three girls, who are way out of their field of expertise.

Oddly enough, the guy is seeing a counselor, Dr. Fletcher, who is trying to help suppress the less desirable personalities and encourage the more benevolent ones. She has her own interest in the guy since he's a goldmine for research and discussion with others in her field. Even though he's giving warning signs to Dr. Fletcher, she does not immediately catch on. She is a handy character since she also provides technical exposition on the guy's abilities, some of which are more convincing than others. The science is a bit wobbly but can be forgiven thanks to the strength of the performances and writing.

McAvoy does a great job performing a variety of characters, occasionally changing between them in the same scene in convincing and unnerving ways. The ultimate plan of the bad personalities, to unleash a twenty-forth personality, is one of the less convincing bits which is unfortunate since that is the dramatic focal point of the last half of the film. The overall tone of the film is a bit more pessimistic than I'm used to in Shyamalan's films. The surprise twist (the usual way he ends a film) I found unexpected and intriguing and left me wanting more, in a good way.


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