To say I was excited to see SPLIT would be an understatement. I remember last year when the trailer came out and I watched it twice, in a row, and then showed a few friends. I remember hearing the line, “Kevin has 23 distinct personalities inside his body” reverberate in my head and thinking about how long I’d have to wait to see the piece from M. Night Shyamalan.
As 2016 wound down and I looked at the IMDB for the movies coming out in 2017 the three weeks between New Years and the release of SPLIT seemed so short and yet tortuously distant. As I sat in my seat to finally view the film I was disappointed in myself for getting so psyched because no movie could live up to my excitement.
Except, it did.
I’ll come right out and say it, the movie was almost perfectly crafted. The opening title sequence flashes the cast’s names in white across a black screen before being scattered into multiple frames. I don’t recall the music playing over the opening credits because the visual so perfectly captured the essence of the next two hours. The movie starts off in a mall parking lot and it doesn’t take long before the heroine of the story and her friends are captured, along with the audience, by James McAvoy playing Kevin’s body and the twenty-three personalities inhabiting inside of it. I felt that an abduction at the mall was perfect because the mall is filled with people and yet none of them are able to help much like Kevin’s body filled with personalities and none of them able to appropriately help Kevin cope with his childhood trauma. The story itself also splits between the main story line and flashbacks of one of the captured girls Casey played by Anya Taylor-Joy.
As the story progresses and we meet the personalities of Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, Kevin, Jade, Barry, and Orwell the only thing I could think of is how magnificent James McAvoy is in this film. He plays each personality as a different character not only in their verbage but in their tone of speech, voice, mannerisms, dress, and the way they carry themselves. You watch as he transforms from personality to personality in front of your eyes and it will probably go unnoticed but I can safely say that it was one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen. I’d also like to commend James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan for not taking the easy way out and have one of the personalities be Scottish (Patricia) so McAvoy could use his native accent.
All in all I was very impressed with performance of the actors and the movie overall. My biggest concern was the decline of M. Night Shyamalan after unbreakable with his only redeeming movie his dabble into found footage, The Visit (2015).
After seeing SPLIT I feel comfortable with saying that he is on a winning streak and has regained his old form. After my first theatrical experience of 2017 I’m excited for what the rest of the year has to offer.