Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Main Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula
“I choose you.”
Those are the first chilling words we hear from James McAvoy’s, Kevin Wendell Crumb and its from this point it sets up the entire feel of the film, Chilling.Split focuses on Kevin, a man who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, he feels compelled to abduct three teenage girls Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula). Through sessions with his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher we find out that Kevin’s personality has been split into 23 different and unique personalities all fighting to be the dominant one. Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) realizes that there is a 24th personality that has been materialized to dominate all the others. Soon Kevin and the girls are in a fight for survival as this 24th personality takes over.
From start to finish James McAvoy gives us a showcase of his acting abilities as he brings us the multifaceted character that is Kevin. It is a tour de force performance by McAvoy and it’s a true pleasure and terror to watch him in Split. From the first time we see Kevin, to the first time he speaks and to his last words, he has you hooked. Although we don’t see every single one of Kevin’s 24 personalities, we still get to see how rounded an actor he is. From the chilling OCD effect Dennis, to the gentle Patricia, to the childish Hedwig and finally the terrifying Beast, McAvoy has you, whether you want it or not. He is able to scare you, confuse you and make you laugh. Yes, in this type of film McAvoy still gets you to see the lighter side, as he showcases Hedwig’s dance moves, which are obviously improvised but add to the film. McAvoy is the main focus and he draws so much of that focus to him and it suits the way the film is made. This could shape up as a performance that could earn him his first Oscar nomination.
Split comes to us from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan and he produces yet another great film. He has crafted every inch of this film in a Dennis like OCD manner. Nothing is out of place. Whether it is his choice of framing and what’s in it .Or the score or the way in which it is edited or even the performances of his cast, particularly McAvoy. Everything is there for a reason and it’s an example of a real methodical filmmaker. There are countless examples where he has combined all five aspects, but one that stands out for me is the scene where Hedwig shows Casey his room and CD player, everything in the scene, from the drawings on the walls, to the toys, to the pictures of girls boobs in a corner of the room, to where Shyamalan places McAvoy, every inch of that scene is there and is there for a reason. It’s this attention to detail which gets you thinking about his personalities and also adds those personal touches to each of them. Which is again complemented by the performance of McAvoy, who is the anchor of this film.
The only down point to what is a wonderful film is the way the film’s narrative flows. Shyamalan takes a long time on building up to the formation of the 24th personality and all that build up is wasted very quickly as the action speeds up to a rapid rate and then it just abruptly stops and the film begins to wind down. Why build up for such an extended period of time only to have it finish so quickly? I guess we will never know, unless we look into the mind of Shyamalan.
But don’t get me wrong this is still a outstanding film. It gives us a powerhouse performance from McAvoy as Kevin and a writing/directing masterclass from Shyamalan. A terrifyingly chilling film from start to finish that will have your eyes glued to the screen. A film to look out for at the 2018 film awards season.
The Front Row Opinion