FILM REVIEW: SPLIT (15)

Audiences and critics alike are “Split” on this one…

Remember when the release of a new M. Night Shyamalan movie was something to celebrate?

His first major film (1999’s The Sixth Sense) was a huge success – both critically and at the box office. His follow-up (Unbreakable) may have failed to capitalize but it was generally praised by critics. Next in line was Signs which (combined with his previous work) saw him hailed as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation.

Then, things changed. The man  once described as “the next Spielberg” began to produce flop after flop. After releasing films such as Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender, he had become little more than a laughing stock in Hollywood. The fact that Sony seemed to be hiding the fact that Shyamalan directed After Earth (not mentioning him at all during their marketing campaign) says it all.

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2015’s The Visit gave us a glimpse of the filmmaker we once loved and many are hailing Split as his big comeback. Is it?

This thriller focuses on a man (James McAvoy) with multiple personalities – 23 to be precise. Some of them are friendly, such as a young boy named Hedwig (who is quite the dancer) and Barry, a flamboyant fashion designer. And some of the personalities are bad. Two of the more violent ones kidnap three teenage girls before keeping them captive in an underground bunker. One of the girls, Casey (Anya Taylor – Joy of The Witch), uses her own history of trauma to try and outsmart the 23 personalities that stand in her way.

Casey soon realises she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for when she comes face to face with the one personality that had previously been submerged – and for good reason.

Considering Shyamalan’s reputation for mostly admirable plot twists, the most shocking thing about Split is how straightforward it is. What you see in the trailer is pretty much what you get. It felt like the film was building up to something that simply didn’t deliver.

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Overall, this is miles above anything the filmmaker has made in recent years but it’s in no way the modern classic or big Shyamalan comeback many have made it out to be. The rhythm is odd, dialogue contrived, and direction mostly sloppy – with many characters reacting in a way that they simply wouldn’t in such a situation.

The only person that feels like they truly belong on the screen is James McAvoy, which is surprising given the role he plays. Acting as a woman one minute and a child the next could have been laughable with the wrong actor cast in his place. His tremendous performance alone is what makes this one to watch.

Mikey Clarke [youtube id=”84TouqfIsiI” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Genre: Thriller

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson & Jessica Sula

Running Time: 1hr 57mins

Written & Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Watch Split and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas’.

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