A thriller that will keep viewers spellbound
Dr Fletcher, but by the time they meet, he assures her nothing is wrong.
The girls first encounter Barry’s multiple identities in a cross-dressing scene that echoes Psycho. Only when he appears later in the guise of a lisping 9-year-old boy named Hedwig does Casey realise there may be an advantage to be gained in Barry’s condition: She begins trying to befriend the child, hoping to play him off his more menacing neighbours.
Casey’s cellmates are impatient to escape, and push for more direct tactics that get them in trouble. But as the film flashes back to Casey’s childhood, when she hunted deer with her father and uncle, we are drawn in to her more cautious approach, realising that life has taught her things the sheltered girls don’t know.
In parallel to Casey’s manoeuvring, we watch a series of appointments in which Dr Fletcher conducts her own delicate interrogation – not yet knowing there’s a crime in progress, but sure Barry has a problem he’s not ready to share. Whatever its scientific merits, Shyamalan’s poppsychology approach makes dramatic sense, painting a picture of the community of people inside the patient’s mind, each created to help him survive childhood and adult traumas.
The director ties themes together at the end with more finesse than usual, letting a couple of meaningful visuals speak for themselves where he might have thrown in a line or two of explanatory dialogue. And as for that final twist, it’s a doozy. – Hollywood Reporter
James McAvoy as Barry, a troubled villain suffering from dissociative identity disorder, in Split.