Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Sixth Sense - film review

The Sixth Sense is the psychological thriller movie that made the name of M. Night Shyamalan, both as writer and director, when it first appeared in 1999. It earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, and is much admired for its clever plot twist. So why has it taken me so long to get round to watching it? It's a mystery in itself!

The story is set in Philadelphia (a city I liked very much when I visited it some years ago for Bouchercon) and centres around a child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) who is shot early on in the film by a young man and former patient called Vincent who feels let down by him. Some months later, Crowe takes on a new case, that of young Cole Sear, whose problems are similar to Vincent's.

Cole's mother, played by Toni Collette, is an attractive but anxious single mother whose devotion to her son is occasionally tested by his strange behaviour. Crowe does his best to help, but meanwhile his marriage seems to be heading for trouble, as his wife (played by the excellent Olivia Williams) is behaving distantly and taking an interest in another man. To say too much more might risk giving away the finale.

One of the interesting features of the film is that Shyamalan plants clues to the twist with a fairness that Christie would have approved. Even though I'm not a great fan of Bruce Willis, he does a competent job in an unusual role, though I think he's better suited to all-out action. It's a well-made movie, although I'm not sure that its quite the all-time classic that some people seem to believe it to be. I'm glad I've taken the opportunity, even if belatedly, to see what all the fuss was about. Overall, I'd rate this as a decent piece of entertainment, no more, no less..


Ann Cleeves said...

I'm a great Nesser fan Martin and very much look forward to reading this one.

J F Norris said...

I have to say that this movie fooled me in a very good way. I remember gasping when I caught on to the big surprise revelation. It's interesting to go back and watch THE SIXTH SENSE again knowing the ending and looking for all the subtle clues that reveal the truth.

However, I don't think Shyamalan ever surpassed this movie. With the exception of SIGNS which has a few interesting ideas and some fantastically filmed scenes I think every one of his movies are poorly written, badly constructed, and overly long. Some of them, like the very poorly written THE VILLAGE, seem to be complete rip offs of old "Twilight Zone" episodes.

Nan said...

I was completely floored by the ending! I agree with John that S. hasn't made anything to top this one.