Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Split is the intriguing tale of the abduction of three high school girls by Kevin Wendell (McAvoy), a man suffering with Dissociative identity disorder (D.I.D.). Wendell has twenty-four distinct separate identities. Some of these identities have cruel intentions whilst others are less threatening and it’s up to the girls, in particular Casey (Taylor-Joy), to work out how they can exploit the more sympathetic personas to enable their escape. Whilst holding the girls captive Wendell maintains his professional relationship with Doctor Karen Fletcher (Buckley). Fletcher believes in Kevin and is always ready to help, championing the case of people like Kevin to bigger audiences in order to offer more help to like-minded individuals. Fletcher also believes that these people could represent the next stage in human evolution as they are able to make changes to their lives via their changing in thought processes.
Naturally, all the fuss is about James McAvoy and that isn’t unfair. He’s playing many roles and the contrasts between the characters is quite stark in places whereas as some have slightly more subtle changes in personality and others see changes in gender. He displays many changes between potential friend and foe and seems to switch with ease from persona to persona. It’s a worthy performance that the role demands and he certainly steps up. There is still room, though, for Anya Taylor-Joy to stamp her mark on the film. Showing she’s more than ready to build on her appearance in Morgan, her portrayal of Casey and with own back story of personal trauma is a strong a performance you will see from someone so young. She builds many relationships to McAvoy’s personalities and shows much more depth to her character than the other two abductees, although to be fair to those characters weren’t given a back story to build on and were just your typical high school kids there to make up the numbers. Betty Buckley plays a strong compassionate Doctor who never fades from wanting to help Kevin. She’s driven by her work and wanting to do right by people suffering from the disorder.
The film works from the get go. It doesn’t stand around building things up to the main event. With in a few minutes of the opening credits the viewer is deeply immersed in the abduction. Relationships between the abductees are strained from the outset and it become clear the battle of wills will mainly be between Wendell and Casey. The film maintains good levels of tension throughout and it’s very difficult to predict what direction the movie will follow and what fates awaits each of the main players. If you’re looking for something a little different then Split could certainly be something to interest you.
4/5 Stars: Shyamalan firmly marks his usual psychological wizardry upon proceedings and this proves to be one of his more than satisfactory offerings.