SPLIT, written and directed by the talented M. Night Shyamalan, starring the wonderful James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley. The film follows McAvoy as he plays a character with split personality disorder, also known as dissociative personality disorder, after he kidnaps three girls and interacts with them in each of his personalities.
As soon as I heard about Split I was excited. Shyamalan’s films have always proved themselves to be creative and original, showing his clear passion for filmmaking, and I thoroughly enjoyed his last film, The Visit. McAvoy, in recent months, has also came to be one of my favourite actors and I think he has a clear dedication to his craft. And hell, did he prove it in this film.
Kevin, who is the main person suffering from split personalities, we actually only meet for a brief second in the film. Out of the 23 personalities his psychologist knows of, we meet Barry, Patrica, Dennis and Hedwick. Each are incredibly unique and interesting characters; Barry is interested in fashion and is extroverted and quite fabulous, Patrica is a stern older woman who likes to be in control, Dennis is suffering with OCD and has a problem with being sexual with young teenagers, and Hedwick is a nine year old boy who happens to love listening to Kanye West.
Each character McAvoy played was so immersive and so unique, it really felt like I was watching different characters on screen, despite seeing the same person acting them. His facial movements and small characteristics, along with subtle accent and voice changes and language used for each character were so intricate it was really fascinating to watch.
Anya Taylor-Joy was also great in this film. Her reactions to each of Kevin’s personalities were believable yet interesting, you could actually see her brain ticking over at how to properly interact with each personality to best her chances at escaping or at least not being hurt or killed. Unlike the other girls, she resisted the urge to fight, knowing that each one of the personalities was much stronger than they were. She tried to connect to Hedwick and speak to him on his level, that being a young boy, and build up a level of trust to aid her escape.
The script was incredibly sophisticated and detailed, without having to force anything down the audience’s throat. Little details about Joy’s character soon added up to something much bigger, and that was satisfying being trusted to figure that out for yourself. The psychologist played by Buckley was also a great character, dedicated to proving that split personality disorder is a real mental disorder, and as someone who is interested in mental disorders and the human mind, I enjoyed hearing her beliefs as she went deeper into the disorder, even if this was perhaps a little expositional.
Overall, Split is not just thrilling and interesting to watch, it’s also incredibly thought provoking. Me and my partner talked for the whole car ride home about the power of the human mind and what we have the capabilities to do. In the film, one of the personalities makes a comment about how “the damaged are the evolved” and this really made us question certain mental disorders like this and the power that they have. Could they one day be an evolutionary trait that protects us from things that damage us? There have been real people who have done astounding things through the power of belief, or after a rush of adrenalin. And the idea that perhaps your mind could create an alternate person to protect the real you from when things get too traumatic is a profound one. If our minds could create someone for us to do the things we ourselves couldn’t, surely anything could be possible?
For Shyamalan fans and film fans in general, this film is truly a showcase of great writing, great acting and effective directing. Its delve into the psyche of the mind, and questions of what we all may be capable of is incredibly thought provoking. Split trusts the audience to piece things together for themselves and even has a little satisfying nod to another famous Shyamalan film at the end.
Split really does make you wonder; are the ‘damaged’ people of the world stronger than the rest?
PSYCHO CINDERELLA’S RATING – 9/10