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17 July, 2007

Sixth Sense - Retro Review

I'll start with a story...

When I watched this film for the second time I was with my friend's parents, at their house, with the VHS. They were watching this for the first time and felt kind of excited. The kind of excitement you get as you watch someone opening a present that you gave them, knowing they'll love it. I was certain I would be able to relive (at least a little) my experience of watching the movie for the first time, through them. My excitement was drawing to a peak as the film ended but instantly destroyed as my friend's mother declared: "Oh I knew that was the surprise". I resisted screaming "Liar!" in her face, but kind of regret that I didn't now. Maybe she had a feeling of what was going to happen..but no-one KNEW it, did they? And if they did, I really pity them. Try watching the movie next time and not thinking about it so much.

Rather than write my usual review of the movie, I thought I'd just highlight a few thoughts and reflections I had since watching this movie again last night. It had been over 5 years since I had last seen M. Night Shyamalan's supernatural thriller "The Sixth Sense" and I felt the time had come to revisit a favourite movie of mine. If anything this film gets better with every watch, even though it really shouldn't have much replay value after the second viewing. The story unfolds in such short and bold scenes that before you have a chance to think about what you were watching you are forced to concentrate on the next compelling moment. Bruce Willis (the big star for this movie, and personal fav of mine) puts in a solid performance but is overshadowed by the young Haley Joel Osment who is able to convey so much emotion and heartache. Even whispering his famous (and much parodied) line still has the intended impact on the audience. Toni Collette is also worth commending for her role as the loving, supportive, strong mother of Cole (Osment) and the scene in the car as Cole discusses his secret with her brought goosebumps to my arms.

With setting such a high standard with his first(ish) movie Shyamalan has unfortunately suffered harsh criticism from his later movies. Constantly compared to the success of The Sixth Sense and almost living in its shadow. I think it's somewhat unfair considering Signs, The Village, and Unbreakable all had lots to offer. Perhaps it is that some may watch his films expecting straight forward Horror or Thriller and are disappointed when the film is actually about relationships, overcoming fears or problems, or the interaction of people, rather than the topic of the movie (i.e. aliens invading, or superhuman abilities).

This is certainly one of those films I wish I could experience again for the first time. I'm sure this will stand out as a classic.

M Night Shyamalan's new film "The Happening" is out June 2008.


Chris James said...

That flick totally pwned my ass.

Didn't see it coming at all...

The Film Geek said...

Good post. I agree with your comments on M. Night. He hit a homer at first bat, and will never live up to that again.