Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley
Split starts out with three teenage girls in Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Casey (Ana Taylor-Joy) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) being abducted by Dennis (James McAvoy) who is also one of the twenty-three personalities in the brain of Kevin Wendell Crumb. Crumb was previously a victim of child abuse and now suffers from dissociative indemnity disorder (DID). Crumb imprisons all three of the girls and plans to use them as a sacrifice to “the beast”, all while trying to cope with his mental disorder by working with Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who is his psychiatrist.
What The Film Did Well:
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved Split. I saw it opening weekend back in January and instantly was fascinated with it. What I love most about Split has got to be the job by James McAvoy who plays the character of Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig and all other twenty-three personalities that his complex and layered character has. McAvoy portrays every character he plays marvelously and at points in the same scene seconds apart he completely changes character and it had me in awe. It is a type of acting job that has stuck with me and is unlike anything I have really seen before. I’m in a minority here, but I really think that the performance McAvoy gives in Split should get some Oscar consideration.
I also love the character development throughout this movie. From the roles that McAvoy plays to the three girls Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) all meticulously act in ways that benefit the different individuals. Everything they do or consider doing and all their actions are thoughtfully considered and it adds so much to this movie.
The cinematography and camera work from the opening scenes until the credits roll are brilliant and add so much aesthetically to this movie. Now, it is not the best shot movie and there are prettier and more beautifully shot movies, but the way it shot does add to the quality of the movie.
Split is also full of suspense and a complete psychological thriller through and through. It grips you and your attention and never loosens it. I have seen this movie twice now and both in the theater and at home I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to see what will happen next. It is one of the more fun movies I have watched of the year so far and a big part of that is because it is so suspenseful a thrilling from beginning to end.
What The Film Didn’t Do Well:
The supporting cast, especially Claire and Marcia are nothing to really rave about. When they are on screen the movie begins to suffer and part of it is because of how excellent McAvoy and Taylor-Joy are. When the leads are on camera they are both so superb they lift Split right back up again. I was not like the supporting cast were bad actors, I don’t believe that at all; they just seemed to come up slat when they were the focal point of certain scenes.
There are flashbacks with the character of Casey that occur throughout Split and even though I realize why they are there and are supposed to have parallels between McAvoy’s characters’ and Casey I’m just not a fan of them. A big reason for me not enjoying the flashbacks as much has to be because they just did not feel natural or organic in the way they were done and seems to disrupt the flow of the movie after the fact of the flashbacks.
Another part of this movie that I thought it lacked or will not be for everyone is the twist at the end. Part of the reason I thought it wasn’t done well is because not everyone will understand it right away. Although, I think the twist, if understood is done with such excellence it is not for everyone. If you are one that understands and recognizes the twist it changes the entirety of the movie. There are very few plot points in movies that can do this and Split does it at the highest of levels, but like I said not everyone will understand it.
I love Split and I think that it is a vastly underrated film with tremendous acting. Split gets and 8.3/10 form me. It probably won’t win any awards, but McAvoy should get consideration for an Oscar nod for Best Actor. Split is a return to form for Director M. Night Shyamalan. Hopefully he will continue to make great movies such as Split going forward. Split is not a movie for everyone and is made to please a specific audience, but everyone should give it a shot because overall it is really a brilliant movie led by terrific acting.