x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 August 2017

Film review: James McAvoy shines in the flawed thriller Split about a fractured mind

Split isn’t a disaster – it is just all over the place and not nearly as effective as it should be, given such a good premise and performances.

James McAvoy. Universal Pictures via AP
James McAvoy. Universal Pictures via AP

Split

Director: M Night Shyamalan

Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley

Two and a half stars

Split is a movie in which James McAvoy plays a man with 23 personalities. Some are kind, some strange, some talented, some deranged. One is a woman. One is a child. And one likes to lock girls in a ­basement.

As with many thrillers, this one from writer-director M Night Shyamalan chooses to focus on scantily clad teenage girls in peril. Forgive me if I am a little bored already, but not even McAvoy in a tight turtleneck and pleated skirt as one of the personalities, Miss Patricia, is enough to save this film.

That said, McAvoy is delightfully weird as the various iterations of Kevin. It is a shame the story, which keeps reminding us there are 23 of them, only shows us about eight.

10 Cloverfield Lane, which cleverly subverted the tropes of the “girl in captivity narrative”.

Split isn’t a disaster – it is just all over the place and not nearly as effective as it should be, given such a good premise and performances.

For some Shyamalan devotees, it will be good enough, though, even without the surprise of the final shot.

* AP