Split is the comeback of one of the most supremely talented filmmakers of this generation — M Night Shyamalan.
(It’s hard to say too much without using spoilers so I’ll be as cryptic as I can.)
⏩ Genre :- Thriller / Mystery / Suspense
⏩ Run-time :- 1 hr 56 minutes.
⏩ Cast :- James McAvoy, Anya Taylor – Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula.
⏩ Director :- M. Night Shyamalan.
⏩ Plot –
Kevin is a guy with a Dissociative Identity Disorder, i.e. he has 23 personalities simultaneously existing in his mind. One of his personalities, kidnaps 3 girls in broad daylight and holds them captive in his basement-esque home. Soon the girls observe and bear witness to Kevin’s multiple personalities, and begin to try for an escape. With the 24th and darkest personality “Beast” to take over Kevin completely, will the girls make it out on time? Or will they fall prey to the “Beast?”
⏩ Direction and Screenplay :-
Guess who’s back? Back again? M. Night’s Back. After giving disastrous films like ‘After Earth’ and ‘Lady in the water,’ Shyamalan is back to prove that he was the mastermind behind the quintessentially appealing films like ‘Sixth Sense,’ ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘The Visit.’ Shyamalan has had a lot of faith in the power of mind and its ability to overcome obstacles and manifest things under pressure, which are otherwise not possible even with a proper plotted plan. Almost all his films have revolved around human psyche, and Split is no different.
Shyamalan has a knack for character detailing and this is proven when there are instances in the film where you emphatize with more than one of Kevin’s personalities.
If you are a fan of Shyamalan’s work, you’ll know that its advisable to pay thorough attention when watching any film from director. Well not all of his films have had a good run in the celluloid, but he is one such director who thinks outside the square and keeps the audience hooked on.
⏩ Editing and Cinematography :-
The film consists of three different plots (no spoiling) which are seamed together flawlessly by Editor, Luke Franco Ciarrocchi (The Visit). Although by the end of the movie you feel it would have been better, had it been 15-20 minutes longer.
A lot of credit goes to the film’s cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It Follows) who captures some seriously thrilling imagery in dark locations like the prison-like rooms and a train and gives us Hitchcock and Spielberg inspired visuals. Commendable!
⏩ Music :-
Music by West Dylan Thordson is what backs half the thrill in the film. Sometimes the tension coils extraordinarily tight and it feels like a hostage thriller, other times it becomes so quirky and offbeat it feels like a dark comedy where you aren’t really allowed to laugh.
⏩ The Highs –
▶ Shyamalan’s movies always have complicated endings that leave you with boundless questions and lots to discuss and Split may be the most overwhelming one yet. There’s a drip-feed of information about the main plot, a frankly haunting background to one of the main characters and, without a hint of hyperbole, arguably the best twist that Shyamalan has executed since ‘The Sixth Sense.’
▶ Shyamalan has definitely put his big-budget days behind him, enjoying the freedom that a small pot of cash and a hot idea can allow, so there’s a lot of scope for intense, low-budget superhero riff here.
▶ This isn’t a typical Hollywood Thriller. Just when you feel it is all about the girls and their escape plan, another bomb is dropped in the form of a varied subplot which then becomes the focus.
▶James McAvoy’s character is every actor’s dream. And boy does he manage to pull it off? Absolutely, with consummate vigour. Sometimes he is the ordinary and kind Kevin, sometimes the creepy, controlling Dennis; the fanatical, middle-aged Patricia; the fashion-loving Barry; or the lisping, nine-year-old Hedwig. Oh you’re going to love Hedwig. (And that’s not a spoiler.)
▶ The background score is pulsating and sets the mood for the scenes to come. Also, as the end strides closer and closer, each footfall is reinforced by a sensational and impactful chord.
▶ If you are a Shyamalan fan, you might be well aware of the gimmick that the best is served in the end. Rest, wait till the final credits roll up. For the climax, is going to blow your head off.
⏩ The Lows –
▶ It’s actually a shame that the story, which keeps reminding us that there are 23 personalities, only chooses to show the audience about 8 of them. But that’s me really nitpicking. (facepalms)
▶ The plot and twists are no-doubt, nail gripping and creative but the abrupt ending is a complete letdown. They could have easily extended for another half-hour.
(This is the first time I didn’t want a movie to end.)
▶In the pre-climatic scene, the film kind of detours from the primary genre – thriller and settles for a supernatural science-fiction. But it still manages to maintain the intensity and gravity that was present ab initio.
▶ While it is certainly times better and an enthralling redemption since ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘After Earth,’ it is still miles away from Shyamalan’s magnum opus, ‘The Sixth Sense.’
⏩ Performances :-
▶ James McAvoy –
With his shaven head, it would seem that James McAvoy relies on costume changes to identify the characters, but the Scottish actor transmits each of the personalities through extraordinary work of body language, expressions, accent and even the pitch and tone of his voice. This is James McAvoy’s film where he is portraying so many personalities with subtle nuances and perfect personal touches, that you eventually notice who has taken over Kevin’s body before they even speak. McAvoy is award-worthy here and elevates the film from a fun ‘70s Horror thriller’ into something psychologically deep drilling and rather affecting.
Let me give you a Trivia – There’s a scene at a psychiatrist’s office where he’s pretending to be one personality while being rules by another, and the way his face shifts when his cover is blown will take your breath away. Somebody please bring him an Oscar. No kidding!
▶ Anya Taylor – Joy, is refreshing and convincing as the nimble-witted captive Casey. With her flowy raven-black mane, spooky I-have-seen-something-very-disturbing eyes and a Bella-esque (Twilight) face, she manages to hold your attention even when she is just looking at you in a dead-pan manner.
▶ You also find Shyamalan in an obnoxious role as the go-to techie guy helping the Psychiatrist Fletcher in keeping an eye on Kevin.
⏩ Watch o Not ?
Definitely. Express your gratitude, later.
If you are not going, I am sure you have lost the plot?
It is 23 James McAvoy rolled into 1!! I am so intrigued in knowing what shit he smoked while preparing for the character. Ffs. (Itna roundabout taarif toh kar diya? Ab bhi nahi dekhne jaoge? Your bad!)
⏩ Verdict : Shyamalan’s back, y’all. And with a bang! While paying full attention has it’s own reward (Read: The final bomb), with Split, Shyamalan has made his best movie in almost a decade or two. It’s a film that’s one part mystery, one part horror, one part out-there, Shyamalan-style. But what does it all mean? Certainly whatever he’s cooking up next, he’s going to need one heck of a twist to top this one.