Spoilers alert… go away if you haven’t seen this movie yet!!!We had seen the trailer for Split when we watched another movie last year, and we were all interested right away. The way trailers are done these days, we knew it was about a kidnapping by a multiple-personality-disorder patient (don’t you hate these spoiler trailers??), but GeekMommy being an unconditional fan of James McAvoy, we had to see this movie.
The movie doesn’t waste time in introductions, but you understand right away that Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) doesn’t really play well with others, and that she is something of an outsider among her classmates (it seems to be a miracle that she was invited to a birthday party in the first place). And Bam! The kidnapper arrives, make everybody unconscious and bring them in his lair.
As the story unfolds, you understand that some personalities have taken control of the life/behaviour of Kevin (McAvoy), and that they believe in “The Beast”, a terrible mythological being, who will need a snack (made of 3 “impure” virgins) as soon as he arrives.
What we discover is that the multiple personality disorder gives the patient the opportunity to really be whatever he wants (also changing his body shape and strength, his medical conditions and, generally, physical attribute as well as mental ones), and therefore this can only send chills down our spine because we realise that, if McAvoy wants to be The Beast, there will be no way to stop him.
And, sure enough, far from the stiffness of an X-men’s Charles Xavier, he does just that: he IS whoever he wants to be. His performance is fantastic. A 9years-old boy, an OCD henchman, a delicate-but-firm headmistress, an artsy-goody-goody young man… every character inside his head comes to life with vibrant and convincing details: the way his hand closes the shawl around his neck, the way his eyes linger on a tiny detail. A superb job that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the next hour and a half.
His psychiatrist helps us understand how he thinks, and provides elements to unfold the story without being completely lost by this carnival of characters.
It turns out that the only thing that The Beast respects is people’s suffering, and that Casey’s self mutilation after her childhood abuse was the key to unlock The Beast’s mercy.
Anya Taylor-Joy is excellent in her role too, as a young, broken teenager, locked up not only in a madman’s basement, but in her own fortress of solitude.
Finally, after all these emotions, M. Night Shyamalan gives us what is maybe the most subtle yet powerful twist of the movie. Once everything has been done and said, when the news are reporting what could be a simple (although spectacular) incident, customers at a diner are reminiscing similar events from a few years ago, involving a weird, crazy villain in a wheelchair. What was his name again?
The answer, uttered without hesitation by an unexpected Bruce Willis, completely transforms the movie we have just watched. It is not a psychological thriller, like we have been led to believe for the past hour and a half! This is happening in the same universe as “Unbreakable”, and therefore, we have just witnessed, not the downfall of a man in his own dark psyche, but the birth of a new Super villain. We were not in Psycho, we were in a dark, twisted version of X-men origins…
All in all, a fantastic movie: good story, excellent actors, compelling storytelling.