Saturday, 21 January 2017

Split ... Personality plus

THE verdict on Split comes down to the performance of James McAvoy, who gets to flex his acting
chops by playing a man who has 23 personalities, with a 24th about to burst to the surface. McAvoy gets to play a 9-year-old child, a woman, an effeminate fashion designer, and a man obsessed with cleanliness.
    While I applaud his versatility, I didn't really feel the impact of his performance. Yes, he gets the mannerisms and speech patterns down pat, but I always felt they were superficial.

  His conversations with his psychologist Dr Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) are interesting only in the sense that she espouses a belief that each personality in a person with multiple personality disorder has a different IQ and different experiences.
   She wonders if the their sufferings can unlock the brain's potential. "Is this where our sense of the supernatural comes from?"
   Meanwhile, the dominant personality in McAvoy's character has abducted three teenage girls, including moody and reclusive Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy of Morgan), and keeps them in a dungeon. This, of course, resembles 10 Cloverfield Lane, where a female motorist fleeing an abusive husband is abducted and kept in an underground home.
    Casey tells McAvoy's character that she intentionally gets sent to detention in school so that she
James McAvoy keeps Anya Taylor-Joy in check. 
can be alone. There's a flashback about her as kid hunting with her dad and his fat brother.
   Her father tells her that the thrill of a hunt is in whether one can outsmart the prey.
   It's inevitable that those abducted and kept underground will eventually escape, but Casey finds the courage, from the most unimaginable of sources, to break free from a painful experience that's been holding her back.
   Early on, Dr Fletcher says "They are what they believe they are", in reference to those with multiple personalities. When McAvoy's new character appears, it says: "We are who we believe we are."      These two statements are probably in reference to the power of believing, in that we can become whomever we want to be if we put our minds to it.
  While the psychologist talks up the power of those with multiple personalities, we are left with only a negative impression of people struggling with this mental health issue. This is writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's legacy for this film.

3 out of 5 stars


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