“Let Us Show Them What We Can Do. Let Us Show Them How Powerful We Can Be…”
If there is one thing to be said about M. Night Shyamalan’s career in the business of movie-making so far, to say it was one of the most diverse and critically haphazard back catalogues of all time wouldn’t exactly be a raging overstatement. Whilst films such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable continue to be Shyamalan’s support beam for his seemingly imperishable reputation, people tend to forget the cinematic bombs such as After Earth, The Last Airbender and Lady in the Water, films which not only are regarded as utter, utter stinkers but films of which Shyamalan tends not to remind people of their existence in fear of not actually being allowed to be behind the camera ever again in Hollywood. With Split, Shyamalan seems to be on similar and overtly familiar territory, with a creepy, psychological premise at the core of the film’s screenplay and a final twist which is both surprising and overtly on-the-nose in terms of its’ utter silliness but one which too will leave the lay cinematic audience scratching their heads.
Featuring a scenery chewing central performance from James McAvoy, one which echoes the full-blown madness of his role in the black-hole darkness of Filth, Shyamalan’s latest is undeniably a welcome return to some sort of form, with the obvious b-movie silliness actually resorting in a movie which is much more fun in terms of its’ exaggerated ripeness than one might have first expected, due mainly to the headline performance of McAvoy, whilst the go-to actress for creepy leading ladies in recent times, Anya Taylor-Joy, continues to impress after continuing on from her stand-out roles in both The Witch and Morgan. Of course, now the un-embargoed reveal of the very final act of Split is one of which will baffle those unaware of Shyamalan’s previous work, yet for those privy to a particular early Shyamalan picture, the concluding seconds bring with it a surprising sense of wanting to pat Shyamalan on the back for having the audacity to attempt it, let alone actually film it.
Overall Score: 7/10
“I Am An Old Soul. I Like Old Movies And Old Music. Even Old People…!”
I know the feeling. As one of the minorities who believe they were born in the completely wrong era, The Edge of Seventeen is one of those fantastical coming-of-age comedies in which relating with the leading lady is simple. A conflicted socially awkward teen who believes the current social strata is one of isolation and technological addiction could sum up Hailee Steinfield’s Nadine, a high-school junior who fails completely at fitting in with the modern crowd and unfortunately loses her best friend after she catches her sleeping with her brother. Ouch indeed. The Edge of Seventeen works on a wide range of levels, no more so than Steinfield herself, who after her star-making performance in the Coen’s remake of True Grit, embraces the film’s lead role in her stride and creates a character so effortlessly likeable, the fact that she appears in every shot of the movie makes it an enjoyable ride into the ambiguity of modern youthfulness once again.
Whilst the perilous teen conflicts at the heart of The Edge of Seventeen aren’t entirely organic, the rather understated nature of the narrative helps to inflict a sense of realism into the drama associated around Nadine, with her brother, played by Everybody Wants Some!! star Blake Jenner, seemingly at the heart of the main issues, a problem many siblings across the globe can relate to. Adding a level of droll humour to the proceedings, Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of Nadine’s teacher-comfort is a quaint addition, one which allows our heroine to find comfort in the heart of someone much older yet someone who understands her completely. Strangely enough, the 15 rating plastered on the movie will unfortunately dissuade most of the audience the movie is attempting to connect with, yet The Edge of Seventeen is indeed one of the more heartwarming additions to the big screen at the moment and when put up against the likes of Office Christmas Party, it’s Annie Hall. On its’ own however, The Edge of Seventeen isn’t exactly in that particular pedigree but it is still is a worthy addition to the genre.