Split Screen 12 articles

Split

2016

Split Poster
  • As usual for MNS, the film exists to justify its own ridiculous “what-if” scenario, which rests on the assumptions that (1) gay men are sassy, (2) young girls ought to be undressed, and (3) child abuse is the only way to grow strong. Even the city of Philadelphia turns out to exist only to serve as Shyamalan’s personal Gotham. But it would be boring and ineffectual to condemn Split for its faults, and audiences for its popularity. Better to diagnose the disease: a failure of the imagination.

  • Its utter and complete Shyamalanness is a mixed blessing. The fully torqued intensity of McAvoy’s acting goes a long way toward making it seem like something uniquely dark and twisted is going on in a story that’s strangely derivative of the thrillers of Thomas Harris (right down to a poetic shot of a caged tiger borrowed from Red Dragon), and the gap between the script’s generally predictable beats and its wackier inventions is considerable.

  • It has a scene early on, centered on a car, that suggests at least an effort at playful inventiveness. The rest of the film is the work of a puppet master who works with an admirable but unoriginal industrial efficiency... Yet it’s a hit, and there are good reasons for its box-office success. The movie commercializes, packages, exemplifies—and safely isolates—authentic phenomena and taps into authentic fears. “Split” isn’t especially well made, but it’s very well positioned.

  • This is a silly movie with a silly premise, but Shyamalan knows it and seems to be having a good time. As an excuse to allow McEvoy to chew the scenery as a whole host of highly exaggerated "alters," Split is highly effective pulp, and Shyamalan's use of editing and misdirection hasn't been this strong since Signs... Having said that, Split does stumble because [Shyamalan] mistrusts his best penny-dreadful tendencies and feels the need to introduce ethical inquiry and emotional heft.

  • I never trust the “return to form” narrative because it often involves grading on a curve, and we’re asked to appreciate that the latest offering is not quite as ghastly as the preceding ones would lead us to expect. We’re supposed to feel happy about that. Obviously the subject at hand is M. Night Shyamalan’s SPLIT. I think that rather than illustrating a suddenly reinvigorated mojo, it affirms that MNS’s directorial abilities were always there, and his writing ability was always flawed.

  • The most Shyamalanian movie in almost a decade, for better and worse. It’s personal and outlandish, with questionable themes, riveting plotting, somber storytelling, a supernatural twist, elegant construction, and fine performances.

  • It's funnier, campier, and more freewheeling than anything its writer-director has done—slightly overlong, but reminiscent of Brian De Palma films like The Fury and Femme Fatale in its refusal to be boring. Shyamalan pulls out one ingenious camera move after another with the help of Michael Gioulakis, the cinematographer of It Follows, echoing Split’s subterranean setting and subconscious concerns through creative and formalist thrills.

  • The movie works effectively as a taut little high-concept thriller. With its small cast and limited range of claustrophobic locations, this is a chamber drama that almost feels like a stage piece. The way that Shyamalan and [DP Michael] Gioulakis emphasize close-ups and medium shots make for a taut, clean forcefulness that—along with its clean, stark opening credits—give Split a leaner, hipper feel very different from the increasingly aestheticized studio polish of Shyamalan’s earlier work.

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    Sight & Sound: Jason Anderson
    February 03, 2017 | March 2017 Issue (p. 86)

    The movie turns out to be far weirder than any other tale of youngsters trapped in dank cells. Flipping between personae with impressive dexterity, McAvoy retains an edge of menace even while acknowledging the ludicrousness of his task(s)... Split's skilful execution makes it even more disappointing for it all to culminate in [spoiler].

  • Maybe bottoming out was the best thing that could happen to Shyamalan, for reasons not so much to do with his films as with his audience's perception of him. Walk into a film like The Village knowing it's from a "serious" director, and you might roll your eyes (as many critics did) when it turns preposterous. But walk into Split only knowing it's a split-personality B-movie, and you'll be surprised how serious gets.

  • It's not just the twists that won Shyamalan renown for his genre efforts. Few filmmakers can use the camera as well as he does — a fact that’s in clear evidence throughout Split. He’s a master of offscreen space, brilliant at evoking menace and uncertainty through what’s suggested just beyond the frame or in the shadows.

  • Certainly Shyamalan’s career-long focus on narrative makes its way into Split, which is perhaps his most confrontational and ambitious work to date... The film certainly encourages a study of the relationship between affect and storytelling, but also stunning are Shyamalan's faculties as a visual director. Seeing as he commits to these complex valences of violence and trauma, it’s fascinating to note how Split deals with confined spaces.

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