Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Sixth Sense

Movie Name: The Sixth Sense
Year of Release: 1999
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Haley Joel Osment, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Glenn Fitzgerald, Mischa Barton, Angelica Page 
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Suspense
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
Following two films that were met with a very tepid response, director M. Night Shyamalan hit the jackpot with the hugely successful "The Sixth Sense". The film established him as a talent to be reckoned with and raked in 6 Academy Award nominations. The film focuses on the story of two main characters: Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist, and his new patient, a shy young boy by the name of Cole Sear. Malcolm tries to get close to the young boy in order to understand how he can help him. Cole is bullied at school, and is frequently terrified by weird events that take place around him. We come to realize that Cole is able to see and hear dead people, something he eventually confides in Malcolm. The therapist however doesn't believe the young boy until things change very dramatically.
"The Sixth Sense" is a very intelligent film, one that has sadly become associated with the twist ending that is part of its iconic existence (much like Neil Jordan's "The Crying Game" for instance). The film is steadily built around the world of the young boy, and how unsettling events occur in his life, much to the dismay of his young single mother, who's desperately trying to take care of her son against all obstacles and difficulties. The director creates a compelling dynamic around this nuclear family, and as the supernatural elements start to emerge, the sense of unease and tension escalate more and more, all through the eyes of the frail Cole. It's a recipe that anchors the film quite successfully, since it allows the unexpected to throw an apparent conventional reality into disarray (and the director has also captured a similar concept that worked so well for William Friedkin's "The Exorcist": a child, an innocent as a potential victim of a supernatural entity). When the twist ending comes along and the pieces are successfully placed together, the film has already built an emotional resonance between the characters that offer the biggest reward for the viewer: Cole and his mother. Shyamalan is successful in capturing wonderful performances from Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette, and the cinematography from Tak Fujimoto (Jonathan Demme's usual collaborator) is superb. A very good film worth watching.