A brilliant, moody work of magical realism. I was surprised to see the film was mostly about psychotherapy and the troubles of young Cole, played fantastically by young Hayley Joel Osment, as the pop culture surrounding the film seems to focus mostly on Bruce Willis’ character. The supernatural ghost story and horror elements were also much less present than I’d thought.
What I really loved about the story was that psychotherapy wasn’t just a surface-level aspect of the film, it wasn’t just Malcolm’s (Bruce Willis’ character’s) job, the whole story revolved around, and the cathartic ending was both Malcolm and Cole benefiting from the mutual psychotherapy they shared in.
Like “Unbreakable”, every directorial choice here feels exceedingly deliberate. The comparisons between Shymalan and Kubrick always seemed a bit baffling to me, as I’d mainly seen his later fare, but it’s clear where they come from as I watch his earlier work, as both his precision and frequent use of long takes mirrors the master.
Stellar performances, an emotionally resonant story, very precise and skillful direction…it’s easy to see why this film was such a huge hit, and continues to be so remembered. I give it four bumblebee pendants, and a Dr. Seuss book.