M Night Shyamalan’s latest effort to return to popularity is the thriller Split. Starring one of my favourite actors in James McAvoy I was hoping for something at least an entertaining time. I was a little sceptical going in due to Shyamalan’s recent record but I was hearing positive things so hoped for the best.
I’m happy to say the movie is enjoyable and for big Shyamalan fans it’s probably even better than i thought it was. There are plot holes, and the extent they effect you will depend a lot on how the twist/reveal at the end of the film hits you, as it may not make sense to everyone.
Split serves as a wonderful vehicle for James McAvoy and he is magnificent throughout. His character has dissociative identity disorder, giving McAvoy the chance to really flex his acting muscles with twenty-three personalities in one character and he takes the chance with both hands. The way he changes his voice, mannerism and facial expressions for each different personality is incredibly effective and really showcases his range.
The character was always going to be a vessel for a big performance and without an actor of McAvoy’s talent, the whole film could have really struggled. I found myself laughing at his character and within seconds I would be creeped out by him. If this film was legible for the Oscars ceremony in a few weeks he may well have got a nod, as it is, i doubt it will make it for next years ceremony, as something released so early in the calendar year rarely makes it into the academy’s thoughts come voting time.
The supporting cast is mixed, with Anya Taylor-Joy being particularly impressive, she is a young talent to keep an eye on for sure. Betty Buckley’s character tended to feel like an exposition machine, and the other 2 young girls in the film were fine at best. Whilst their characters were pretty paper thin, the actresses made the film feel a little like a standard slasher horror movie for me. I am sure they’re both talented actresses but they’re outshone by Anya Taylor-Joy here.
With the smaller budget films M Night Shyamalan is making now he seems to have rediscovered his directing mojo. A performance as good as McAvoys is nigh on impossible without good direction and the use of score and clever camerawork help rack up the tension when needed. Where Shyamalan still falters for me is with the script, as i do feel there are a few too many plot holes and leaps of logic required to make this a truly great film.
Split is a enjoyable film, and whilst some will get a lot more out of this than others, even myself as someone who isn’t a particularly big Shyamalan fan could still enjoy it. The reveal at the tail end of the film does really change a lot about it once you have understood its ramifications. This is probably M Night Shyamalan’s best film since Signs. It might “Split” people on whether it works as a film if you don’t get the reveal at the end, but if you do its a decent enough ride. I assure you I am definately the first to make that pun.
7/10 – McAvoy show is worth a watch.