SPLIT

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Yes, this is an M. Night Shyamalan film. Yes, we all have trust issues, thanks to The Last Airbender and After Earth. Yes, The Visit wasn’t the perfect directorial return everyone needed.

The sheer ambition of Split, however, screams promise. The film runs the risk of being a thriller with a gimmick and a twist alright, but it’d be too soon to judge it on the basis, simply, of patterns. Shyamalan’s unpredictability—a pleasant surprise or a disastrous outcome, both when you’d least expect it—still rings in a silly sense of hope, if not anything else.

THE MOVIE

Darkness is here

On the surface, Split sounds like the exact kind of gimmicky thriller that  the director’s harshest critics detest the most; it’s a trademark that has lasted through his best and worst creations. An abduction takes place, and the captor is quite the “extraordinary”—as one of the characters would prefer addressing him by—specimen. The movie aims to terrify alright, but not for the reasons a potential viewer would surmise. Its horrific unraveling comes not from the act and aftermath of abduction itself; it comes from where the captor and one of its captives are coming from.

In a decade where a progressive number of films are ready to tackle abuse of all kinds, it’s surprising to find how Split becomes a rather subtle voice on the painful traumas its victims have to go through. James McAvoy plays a man with as many as twenty-three split personalities, each designed to help its “host” body and soul to cope mentally. As his urgent, antsy sessions with his psychiatrist evolve—or devolve, depending on how one sees it—viewers can understand his many personalities much better, empathizing with the darker ones even.

Some qualms viewers may have are the final twist and the establishment of the protagonist’s backstory. Those may not be entirely wrong; superficially, as the story continues to rewind to episodes that set in motion demons she continues to grapple with, the consistency of Split’s narrative pace is abruptly shaken. What’s important to realize, however, is the necessity of the story and its telling. Survivors of abuse who are thrown back into situations that scream danger—both physical and emotional—scramble back into their past to understand how to survive a forthcoming obstacle. It may or may not be an effective method, but it’s the only reflex one is often left with.

“It may not be as perfect as Unbreakable, yet dazzles and terrifies you enough to make you think about the many emotional implications of all its three pivotal characters.”ANKIT OJHA

The storytelling does have a few shaky moments, though; the dialogues and monologs while being quite well-written in colloquial exchanges, can’t seem to pull through on a few crucial expository scenes or dramatic poetry as well as it should. Thankfully, its performers are highly competent enough to own every line. McAvoy, in particular, delivers a frighteningly winning performance as his many personalities. He might be a “Patricia” (the unnerving, yet soft-spoken middle-aged woman) one moment, a “Barry” (the fashion designer) the other, and a “Dennis” (a pervert and clean-freak) or “Hedwig” (a nine-year-old with a lisp), but every time he dons his character’s varied personas, he never misses a single step.

Facing him off is Anya Taylor-Joy, who is sharp, nuanced, and can stand up to McAvoy’s performative monstrosity. Betty Buckley brings forth subtlety, and Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula, while not entirely convincing, put some much-needed bewilderment—an important part of fear—to the table. Each actor is a part of their contained setups; to differentiate, it’s very important to have their distinct visual palettes. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It Follows) understands this perfectly, playing with light, space, and movement to help viewers understand both locations the narrative takes them to.

Endless maze

VERDICT

Its power is its dogged resilience to survive, despite some cringeworthy narrative patches that reek of Shyamalan’s indulgence. But that’s what makes the film so great; it boasts the kind of passion one doesn’t always witness in mainstream thriller filmmaking these days. Split is the director’s resounding comeback we’ve all been waiting for. It may not be as perfect as Unbreakable—possibly his only flawless film to date—yet dazzles and terrifies you enough to make you think about the many emotional implications of all its three pivotal characters.

For a director’s dazzling return to form, a towering performance, and—if not anything else—a smartly underplayed commentary on the aftermath of abuse, Split needs to be watched. It’s a January movie alright, but have some faith. It’s an outlier in a month of predictably disappointing norms.

Watch the trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Star Rating:

Plot

Three teenage girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 split personalities. They’re an important key to the 24th, which is about to arrive soon, and is bigger and more frightening than one’d surmise.

Cast

James McAvoy
Anya Taylor-Joy
Betty Buckley

Director

M. Night Shyamalan

Rated

PG-13

We’re viral

Like usFollow us
Cast James McAvoy
Anya Taylor-Joy
Betty Buckley
Director M. Night Shyamalan
Star Rating

THE PLOT

Three teenage girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 split personalities. They’re an important key to the 24th, which is about to arrive soon, and is bigger and more frightening than one’d surmise.

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Yes, this is an M. Night Shyamalan film. Yes, we all have trust issues, thanks to The Last Airbender and After Earth. Yes, The Visit wasn’t the perfect directorial return everyone needed.

The sheer ambition of Split, however, screams promise. The film runs the risk of being a thriller with a gimmick and a twist alright, but it’d be too soon to judge it on the basis, simply, of patterns. Shyamalan’s unpredictability—a pleasant surprise or a disastrous outcome, both when you’d least expect it—still rings in a silly sense of hope, if not anything else.

THE MOVIE

Darkness is here

On the surface, Split sounds like the exact kind of gimmicky thriller that  the director’s harshest critics detest the most; it’s a trademark that has lasted through his best and worst creations. An abduction takes place, and the captor is quite the “extraordinary”—as one of the characters would prefer addressing him by—specimen. The movie aims to terrify alright, but not for the reasons a potential viewer would surmise. Its horrific unraveling comes not from the act and aftermath of abduction itself; it comes from where the captor and one of its captives are coming from.

In a decade where a progressive number of films are ready to tackle abuse of all kinds, it’s surprising to find how Split becomes a rather subtle voice on the painful traumas its victims have to go through. James McAvoy plays a man with as many as twenty-three split personalities, each designed to help its “host” body and soul to cope mentally. As his urgent, antsy sessions with his psychiatrist evolve—or devolve, depending on how one sees it—viewers can understand his many personalities much better, empathizing with the darker ones even.

Some qualms viewers may have are the final twist and the establishment of the protagonist’s backstory. Those may not be entirely wrong; superficially, as the story continues to rewind to episodes that set in motion demons she continues to grapple with, the consistency of Split’s narrative pace is abruptly shaken. What’s important to realize, however, is the necessity of the story and its telling. Survivors of abuse who are thrown back into situations that scream danger—both physical and emotional—scramble back into their past to understand how to survive a forthcoming obstacle. It may or may not be an effective method, but it’s the only reflex one is often left with.

“It may not be as perfect as Unbreakable, yet dazzles and terrifies you enough to make you think about the many emotional implications of all its three pivotal characters.”ANKIT OJHA

The storytelling does have a few shaky moments, though; the dialogues and monologs while being quite well-written in colloquial exchanges, can’t seem to pull through on a few crucial expository scenes or dramatic poetry as well as it should. Thankfully, its performers are highly competent enough to own every line. McAvoy, in particular, delivers a frighteningly winning performance as his many personalities. He might be a “Patricia” (the unnerving, yet soft-spoken middle-aged woman) one moment, a “Barry” (the fashion designer) the other, and a “Dennis” (a pervert and clean-freak) or “Hedwig” (a nine-year-old with a lisp), but every time he dons his character’s varied personas, he never misses a single step.

Facing him off is Anya Taylor-Joy, who is sharp, nuanced, and can stand up to McAvoy’s performative monstrosity. Betty Buckley brings forth subtlety, and Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula, while not entirely convincing, put some much-needed bewilderment—an important part of fear—to the table. Each actor is a part of their contained setups; to differentiate, it’s very important to have their distinct visual palettes. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It Follows) understands this perfectly, playing with light, space, and movement to help viewers understand both locations the narrative takes them to.

Endless maze

VERDICT

Its power is its dogged resilience to survive, despite some cringeworthy narrative patches that reek of Shyamalan’s indulgence. But that’s what makes the film so great; it boasts the kind of passion one doesn’t always witness in mainstream thriller filmmaking these days. Split is the director’s resounding comeback we’ve all been waiting for. It may not be as perfect as Unbreakable—possibly his only flawless film to date—yet dazzles and terrifies you enough to make you think about the many emotional implications of all its three pivotal characters.

For a director’s dazzling return to form, a towering performance, and—if not anything else—a smartly underplayed commentary on the aftermath of abuse, Split needs to be watched. It’s a January movie alright, but have some faith. It’s an outlier in a month of predictably disappointing norms.

Watch trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Share this Post