split-james-mcavoy

Split is basically M. Night Shyamalan’s version of an X-Men movie. Kevin (James McAvoy), with his 23 personalities (X-23?), is like Legion crossed with Wolverine, and “the Beast” is about to emerge. And let’s throw some Professor X in for good measure, since McAvoy plays both after all. (BTW, Legion is Prof. X’s son.)

The last X-Men film, Apocalypse, was not that well-received, but I liked it a lot, and the similarities are instructive. Just as that mutant film was, for better or worse, unapologetically over-the-top, so is Split relentlessly blunt with its dialogue. Sometimes that means characters thuddingly explain exactly what is happening and exactly how they are feeling, and we say, “Nobody talks like that.” But then, that is also the appeal. Kevin talks and acts like nobody else, and that is what makes him so spellbinding.

There is a series of flashbacks from the childhood of the main kidnapping victim (Anya Taylor-Joy, always a wonder to behold), which is largely unnecessary. The point they make is demonstrated more subtly and just as effectively towards the end, but they are compelling and in keeping with the unsettling tone.

Yeah, there’s a twist (or two). There are hints that we should have seen all along, but also plenty of misdirection, so it works, beyond all odds and all sense.

And for my Early 2017 Oscar Wish List, I of course like McAvoy for Lead Actor, Mike Gioulakis for his expressionistic Cinematography, are opening and closing credits considered part of Production Design?, and Shyamalan himself for Supporting Actor in the best one-scene performance I have seen in some time.

I give Split 20 out of 24 Personalities.

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