Here I am to continue my M. Night Shyamalan series, as I review the movies that are part of his new-founded trilogy: Unbreakable, Split and the yet-to-be-released, Glass. So, Split ... Is it the return to form by Shyamalan?
Once again, Shyamalan's storytelling is very original, unconventional and mind-blowing at the same time. Instead of establishing everything the audience needs to know about the characters right at the beginning, he gradually develops them, giving them haunting backstories and spreading parts of it throughout the runtime.
It's because of that, that I say this film isn't for everyone. The audience needs to trust Shyamalan and be patient. Very patient. Don't start taking notes about something that you THINK it's negative because once you reach the third act, everything changes and suddenly it all makes sense. The screenplay is not as twisty as Unbreakable, for example, but it demands absolute attention in order to catch on all the things that matter (and the ones that don't, as well).
The production and editing team have to be congratulated due to their seamless work. From the camera work to the long one-takes, as well as the environment surrounding the characters, everything feels real and looks amazing. The soundtrack ... Let me just say that this element is so, but so much important to the conclusion of this movie. I can't really say anything else without spoiling the ending, so I'll leave a note after my rating at the end of the review with a MAJOR SPOILER.
As for the cast, I'll start with the man that I honestly think should receive an Oscar nomination: James McAvoy. You know, there's a big difference in portraying a non-fiction character from a fiction one: with the first one, you can't really escape the true nature of the person you are playing, but with a non-fiction character, as an actor/actress, you have to deliver yourself 100% to the role for it to be believable ... And God, does McAvoy deliver! He gives 200% in what could be his best performance to date. Did you think Andy Serkis had problems portraying both Gollum and Sméagol at the same time? Well, imagine 6 ... or 7 characters. I lost the count. All in all, James McAvoy, sir, congratulations! You are superb!
Anya Taylor-Joy is also incredible as Casey! Her character has the most intriguing story of the three girls and she's the one that assumes the leadership of the group once the kidnap happens. Her initially unknown past helps her through the suspenseful situation, but it's really her very captivating backstory that grabbed my attention. It's fundamental to the understanding of the ending and Anya does a terrific job. I also want to give a small praise to Betty Buckley for a beautiful and necessary interpretation of Dr. Fletcher, a character that offers the audience some more knowledge on Kevin's disease.
As for the other two kidnapped girls, well ... They're my main issue with the film since they're there just because. Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) aren't the main characters and they don't have that much screen time, but their dialogue still feels very forced and with a lot of nonsense. The ending of the story might not be as twisty as in other Shyamalan's installments and I hope that people don't give up to false expectations. The classic Shyamalan's twisty ending isn't a necessary attribute of his films, but the truth is that the twist ... Is not the one you think it is. Once again, the note at the end of my review will clarify this.
Split is Shyamalan's return to his old early 2000's self. Brilliantly unconventional storytelling, a lot of suspense, some very captivating stories and an incredible editing and production team behind him. The soundtrack plays a huge role in this movie, as well as James McAvoy, who has his career-best performance. Anya Taylor-Joy is also pretty amazing, something that can't be said about her fellow friends that portrayed two bland characters. The ending brings the classic twist that makes everything more understandable and I gotta say ... I love this film and it is one of 2017's best!
As I said above, the soundtrack plays a huge role in the ending twist. That's because the soundtrack that plays right before the title of the film appears on the screen, is the same one as in the third act of Unbreakable.
This is one of the many clues throughout the film that hint at the idea that Split belongs to Unbreakable's universe. Obviously, after the title appears on the screen, there's a scene with David Dunn (Bruce Willis) that confirms this theory, but these are little details that make Shyamalan into a great director.
Also, it's a pity that I've only watched these films after Shyamalan stating that they were part of an eventual trilogy. Not that I was unsurprised at the end of Split, but it did remove that first impact of a pure shock in knowing that two movies separated by 17 years (in real life) are part of the same universe.
Honestly, both movies end up falling into the "superhero" genre. Unbreakable is the story of our "hero" that spent his whole life sad because he wasn't doing "what he was supposed to do" and Split is an origin story of our "villain". If Glass delivers, this might be one of my favorite trilogies ever and one of the best "superhero" trilogies of all-time.
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