By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)

 

Split: M. Night Shyamalan Finally Returns to His Greatness

At once creative and unique, sinister and talented, beloved and trusted, Split represents a return to his roots for M. Night Shyamalan. This film articulately crafts its original and creative screenplay in combination with its brilliant and technical direction. The thematic messages represented in the movie reign superior over its nitpicked flaws. Narratively speaking, Split tells the story of Kevin Wendell Crumb who suffers from dissociative identity disorder which was diagnosed to contain 23 different personalities. After some of the personalities take over by kidnapping three young girls, we then as an audience goes on a white knuckling, thrilling, and disturbing film that left me speechless.

Split is a film that relies purely on the audience’s faith in the narrative. Especially in the fact that if you as viewer take these risks, you will be rewarded heavily. Split contains immaculate technical filmmaking qualities. The cinematography visually focuses with an artistic precision while having a center on the visual description of this narrative. Mike Gioulakis is the director of photography for this film, and he is most famously known for his cinematography on the movie called It Follows. His incredible vision for creative color design and sleekness of his visuals is immaculate. M. Night Shyamalan capitalizes on this with moving direction. He uses great long wide shots and close-ups to encompass this sense of intimacy and claustrophobia. He does this by using great zoom frames that focus on the character without them being in the middle. This direction helps with the themes of unhinged characteristics, by making things feel out of balance just like Kevin is.

The screenplay holds this film together like brick and mortar. It is full of incredible dialogue exchanges, and its focus on its visual storytelling to describe character traits. The script does contain some reliance on exposition in how it handles the descriptions and explanations of some of the films plot points, but it follows it up with the brilliant structure to produce an intriguing and white knuckling story. It does an incredible job of fleshing out its characters with little hints in their dialogue and provides character traits through the differences in how they react to situations. Creating an original and creative script that provides such an enthralling and thrilling story that never loses momentum. Performances are the subject of focus for this film especially in how these performances are incredible.

Anya Taylor-Joy is amazing in this movie, in how she expresses strength and uniqueness while hiding weakness. But, James McAvoy steals the freaking show with his fantastic expressionism of a sinister, disturbing, psychotic, entertaining, funny, and unique character. This performance is by far his best performance with only his performance from Atonement being as remarkable. But, I would argue this performance is better due to the complexity of the characters he has to portray. He his combining humor with sinister and guilt with innocence. Making the audience question their opinion on him as a character in whether he is deserving of the blame or does his mental illness free him of his heinous crimes.

The only other thing I must talk about is this film’s conclusion, and how I can’t talk about it because it is the best twist in an M. Night Shyamalan film since The Sixth Sense. This twist is so incredibly intriguing and complexity insensitive. And, that’s all I can say about it without creating a spoiler driven review. As far as flaws go, I believe the problems with this film are focused on its performances and reliance on exposition in particular moments. The performances are fantastic for the main characters, but the other girls involved are a little lackluster. While I did enjoy the creativity of the dialogue to provide character traits, these actresses still struggled with standing out in my opinion. The exposition I feel is necessary, but uncreative in how the articulation takes place. The explanation is expressed through dialogue and with all of the creative filmmaking techniques used disappointing and distracted to have such a simple method used for exposition.

Split is a film that challenges the audience by asking them to follow these risks to reward them with creative and shocking plot developments. This movie is expansive, provocative, completive, and imaginative. I loved this film because I grew up loving M. Night Shyamalan and it has been disappointing to be a fan in the last ten years. But, he has come back with this thrilling masterpiece named Split that I’m going to give an A. What is your favorite M. Night Shyamalan film? Which of his films do you hate the most and why? Are you excited for what he does next? Let me know down in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.

Rating: 5/5

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