Split (2017) Review

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Summary: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. It’s almost a bit too hard to talk about the characters in this film as most of them are played by the same actor. But, I think it’s truly the performances that really elevate this movie, because without the two… maybe three leads we have, the movie could have been really silly.
  • James McAvoy as Kevin. So I’m going to try to do a breakdown of each one we see at least. But he is masterful, I love James McAvoy and I think this is one of his best roles, this is his best acting and I love him so much. The way he shifts between these characters, even if it’s not in the same scene is amazing. The little ticks he does for one personality, that is completely gone for the next. The way he walks for them, or react to things… it’s just so fantastic. I honestly would say he deserves some awards for this role. This character has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
    • Dennis– We see him the most, he has violent tendencies and OCD. We learn a few things about him in particular. He’s quite scary. He wears this black button down shirt that is buttoned to his neck, black pants and glasses. He stands really tall and is pretty menacing. However, due to his OCD he freaks out about certain things. But he is definitely seen as “the leader” of the others at least.
    • Patricia– We see her a few times, she’s like this older English woman. She seems to be really into incense, tea etc. She comes off like a kind woman but she’s just so unsettling as well. I think there was something off about her in one scene which I will discuss more in my spoiler review.
    • Hedwig– He was my favorite character. He’s a 9 year old boy. He’s the one who tells the girls their purpose and Casey immediately tries to befriend him to help. It’s easy to see that he’s been influenced by Dennis and Patricia but there’s just a bit more about him. Because he’s a child, he’s unassuming but boy…it’s just so good.
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cook. She is the lead teen, at first she comes off really odd, and when they’re kidnapped, she seems really chill compared to the other girls. However, as the stakes begin to raise, not only do we learn more about her through flashbacks, but we see start to do something. I think her character is tragic and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something about her… that was different in the way that Kevin is but not exactly the same way. This is the first movie I’ve seen with her and I think she’s a great actress. There is something a bit weird about her but it works so well because she just seems like a natural in this role. She makes her fear real, her frustration, her confusion, her disbelief… it’s quite amazing.
  • Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher. She was great. She’s a psychologist who tries to help Kevin with his DID. She believes that DID can, in extreme cases, cause physiological changes. She really tries to get other scientific people to understand the extreme cases which does sound nutty. The way she tries so hard to interact with each personality. The fact that she seems to have devoted so much time to Kevin and his disorder, she cares, but I think it’s safe to say that she’s also just a bit frightened of him. I thought Betty Buckley was great here, you really believe that she has been out in this field for quite some time and that she’s been working with Kevin for a long time.
The Story. It’s a little weird, especially as it begins to unfold more but I really like the idea of a man with DID who is the villain of the story. I like the build up, I like the suspense that is created as the film continues. It’s a slow burn so if you’re not patient, this may not be what you want.
The Humor. It’s not hilarious but there is humor in it. If you are looking to laugh hard, this isn’t the movie. Hedwig has some great lines and moments, same with Dennis and Patricia but a lot of times it’s uncomfortable laughter because it’s funny but then it’s also like… “are you about to flip on me?” type thing. It’s so great.
The Dance Scene. Without spoiling it, there is a scene where Hedwig takes Casey to his room to see his CD player. He plays, I think it’s Kanye West and he’s dancing… it’s so great and also horrifying. It turns into a quite intense scene. Another reason why I love Hedwig.
The twist. It’s so great. I am not really familiar with the item the twist is based in, but I know about it enough to get it. It’s at the end, and when it happens, the news is talking about Kevin and how he is being called “The Horde” due to his many personalities and a woman makes a comment where someone responds. When I saw it, I went “oh wow, is that…?” So now, I need to do my research to fully understand it but I totally get it and I’m sure those who are familiar with Shyamalan’s work will love it.
Cons:
The Supporting Characters. They’re are two other teenage girls that Dennis kidnaps and they’re here as well because they’re… serviceable but disposable. Hayley Lu Richardson seems like she’s a good actress but she was a bit annoying and over the top. Jessica Sula is soooo pretty and she’s probably the most forgettable as outside of maybe two scenes, she doesn’t really do anything.
The Flashbacks. So there are flashbacks in the film for the Casey’s character. At first, I wondered if what we saw her learning in the flashbacks were going to be a direct correlation to what her choices would be in present time. It ended up being that to an extent but it takes a moment for them to serve their purpose.
It Can Be Slow. The beginning starts off really slow I think. I mean, we jump right into the story, but there’s definitely a slow burn and it’s reeeallly slow. It takes quite a moment for things to get started. You can’t help but wonder why certain choices are made so late. It takes a long while to get moving, and that does affect the experience, you might start getting a little antsy.
Not Enough Personalities. I wish we saw more of the other personalities. The ones we saw were definitely interesting and I really enjoyed them. Yes, it had it’s humorous moments because of them being so different but after a while it gets a little menacing with the ones we saw. So it’s because of that, I wish we saw more of “Barry” or “Jade” or “Orwell” as they were the names we see on folders etc. Plus, I would have loved to see James McAvoy play a bit more of them. I can’t help but wonder if there are deleted scenes where he does.
The Twist. This is here because I think if you don’t know the other thing, then you won’t get it. It’ll be like “what?”, I don’t know the foundation of the twist as it’s directly related to something else but I know ABOUT it which helped me get it.
Overall, I really really enjoyed Split. This is James McAvoy’s movie, but of course Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley help as well because without these solid performances, this story could have been really silly. I do think that there is a part of that becomes really silly, in the twist area and while I understand it even without fully complete previous knowledge, I think people who don’t know, will totally think it’s stupid. Or, they might enjoy it because it’s crazy. My younger brother and sister (17 and 15) both enjoyed it and they have no idea what the twist meant. So it really depends. If anything though, come here for James McAvoy.
Rating: 3.9 out 5 stars.
I’m going to do a “spoiler review” for this because I just have to talk a bit more in depth about certain things. It’ll be right after this.
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