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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan
Bruce Willis
Samuel L. Jackson
Robin Wright Penn
Set in Philadelphia, this film stars two diametrically opposed men. One man is black and has a disease which makes his bones very easy to break. The other man is white and seems to be unbreakable. He is the only survivor of a train wreck and can’t seem to figure out why. The first man helps the second man come to some kind of understanding about his situation.
M. Night Shyamalan continues to impress. Here’s yet another original creation of his that manages to successfully slap together a unique mystery, interesting characters, real life situations to which we could all relate and a touch of the paranormal. I love this guy! I hope he keeps it up because more movies like this is what we need. Of course, much like any other great film, this one is not for everybody. The film does have quite the slow pace, might come off as repetitive to some people and also manages to parallel THE SIXTH SENSE in various ways. But for me, I was hooked-lined-and-sinkered from its first two scenes, which much like the film’s teaser trailer, just made me sit up and say, “What’s up with that? Intriguing…now tell me more.” The sequences in question basically set up the foundation of the two main characters in this film, and let me tell you, they grabbed me and that was that. I couldn’t wait to find out why they were the way that they were, and what it all meant. But Shyamalan draws the film out slowly. He already seems to have developed a great eye for the camera, setting up angles just right, enough to give us a taste of the scene, but not the whole bite. There are also little hints dropped here and there, red herrings and a Hitchcockian score providing just enough background to allow for a gradual development of the richer points in the script. Like Hitchcock, Shyamalan also seems to be finding himself a small part in his own films. Here, he shows up as a suspicious “drug dealer” at a sports stadium.

But don’t expect a horror with this film. That’s not what it is. It’s not a thriller either. No major “thrill” scenes in this movie. In fact, it isn’t until the last twenty minutes that the film’s leisurely pace is disturbed by some invigorating energy. I would consider this picture to be more like a good ol’ fashioned mystery a la Twilight Zone. Set in an ordinary environment with believable characters, this film manages to creep us out with elements which just don’t seem to make sense in our reality. Of course, much like any other good story, this film would not be a complete success unless we connected to the characters on the screen, and in this movie, I did. In fact, we could all relate to what Bruce’s character is essentially going through. He doesn’t understand his place in the world. He is confused. He is not sure why he is what he is. What is his destiny? We’ve all felt like him at some point or another in our lives and you learn to recognize that in his character early on.

Bruce downplayed his character as much as he did the one in THE SIXTH SENSE (almost seemed like the same guy but in a different circumstance), while Sam Jackson was surprisingly restrained as the bizarre dude with the love of comic books. And as for the ending…don’t worry I won’t be giving anything away here, but suffice it to say that unlike THE SIXTH SENSE, a movie which I believed was taken to another level with that slap-in-your-face conclusion, this film’s finish felt much more like a “Hmmmmm, yeah okay, that makes sense” kind of thing. Of course, some might scoff at the ending, but that all depends on whether or not you were “into” the film as it moved along. It certainly didn’t make or break the movie for me, and I doubt it will blow anyone else away either. This film is not about the ending necessarily. It is about the journey, a journey that is deliberately unhurried, melancholic and intriguing. My guess is that anyone who was greatly interested in this film by its teaser, will more than likely be impressed with this film’s brilliant manner of storytelling. It looks like Shyamalan is here to stay. Of course, once the movie is over, and this seems to be developing into a very cool Shyamalan tradition, you will undoubtedly feel the need to discuss the film with others. It’s engaging, it’s mysterious, perhaps even unbelievable to the more cynical in our society, but ultimately the film is an excellent demonstration of what a great director, a solid script, a deeper, meaningful message and well crafted characters can bring to a theatrical presentation as such. For me, the film worked on various levels and I hope that many others like it just as much. That’s it and I hope I didn’t spoil anything for you…that’s half the fun!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian




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