Movie Review: Split (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Georgina Aindow 23.01.2017 3

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Split (UK Rating: 15)

Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Split tells the twisted tale of a man named Kevin "Wendell" Crumb (James McAvoy), who has dissociative identity disorder, and kidnaps three young girls. This isn't an especially insightful film about the disorder, but it is a very entertaining and noteworthy one. There are segments to the narrative that lack cohesion, and do not hold narrative purpose. Daring and interesting, the simplicity of the camerawork aids the direction, allowing for the atmosphere to have a tense hold on its viewer.

Image for Movie Review: Split (Lights, Camera, Action!)

McAvoy excels in mastering each of the personalities, bringing out a skilful side not seen on screen before. His sudden change in mannerisms, gait, and articulation play a crucial role in displaying his versatility as an actor. The most intriguing identity he portrays is a nine year-old, Hedwig, who exudes innocence, juxtaposed with an uneasy aura. Undoubtedly, this is his best performance to date. Out of the three girls whom are abducted, two don't get an awful lot of spotlight, making for more minor roles. They nonetheless effectively convey the desperation of getting themselves out of the situation. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Casey, the third girl, steals each scene from the others, adding her individual touch of emotion, which feels raw and convincing.  A twist ending that is much different for Shyamalan, puts him back in our good books.


 
6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Split's predicament lies in how it tries so hard to cultivate Kevin's multiple identities that it eventually loses its own identity along the way. Does it take the genre of a horror, a comedy, or is it purely a psychological thriller? Aside from the ambiguity, this slow-burner leaves its viewers feeling isolated and tense throughout. It's worth a watch for McAvoy's pleasing performance alone - it's not a pretty picture.
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I'm still intrigued by this, and the trailer did grab my attention...but then I saw it was an M. Night Shyamalan film and it put me off. His films always seem to have a great premise but have some core element missing that leaves you wondering why you bothered. The Visit is a good example, with a fantastic theme and good twist, but missing a certain 'something' to make it thoroughly enjoyable.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I saw this movie, I don't know, almost two weeks ago?

I liked McAvoy's portrayal of the characters, but the way the characters are written into the movie is sometimes so incredibly hackneyed. One moment that janitor guy is talking (forgot his name), and the next some random guy who constantly talks about historic events comes through, not exactly making the situation any scarier or more disturbing. It just felt so odd, especially when you had several personas that never surfaced but did somewhere around the end of the movie, for no apparent reason. The personas themselves are also quite cliché and never really do anything that you didn't expect - perhaps a confusion or blending of Kevin's several personas would've made things truly disturbing, rather than just a series of examples of McAvoy's acting range. The fact that these characters are not allowed by two of the personas to hurt the girls, makes the movie feel as though it has no stakes.

In addition, the movie had this constant misandrist undertone, with one character saying (at the beginning) that girls are better than boys. This theme (and the trauma of what happened to the main female character) is seemingly pinned squarely on men (the sex/gender). The three girls even claim they can't physically fight back against Kevin. Now, I don't care how strong one of his personas is, there's no way he's stronger than three girls combined - just in body weight alone he shouldn't be able to hold his own against a coordinated attack. Again this seems to be an ''oh, poor weak girls'' narrative that's absolutely vile. If this theme is supposed to seem feminist, it's really talking down to women.

The symbolism comes back again at the end, but I won't spoil it. Really hope Shyamalan hasn't become an SJW - I don't watch movies for politics.

( Edited 25.01.2017 22:44 by Leo Epema )

I think it's more that he just can't make decent movies. He's still trying to beat The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable was okay, as well. Everything else after that has been middling-to-poor. The fact that even this movie was advertised as "By the guy behind Sixth Sense" shows his lack of progression. You don't get Spielberg being labelled by one movie! Even if Lucas gets SW a lot, that's only because it's a long-running series, and even then Indy gets mentioned as well. Shyamalan will forever by "that guy that did the 'I see ghosts...everywhere' movie".

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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