Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Signs (IMDB) (Netflix)
M. Night Shyamalan's latest spiritual thriller (after Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) starring Mel Gibson and crop circles. It's a multidimensional highwire act, balancing Gibson's loss of faith after a senseless tragedy, a series of unexplainable events, and mounting tension interspersed with relief valve humor.

Reactions to movies are often a function of expectations, sometimes inaccurate ("I thought it was going to be more...), and with the recent onslaught of sequels, increasingly well-managed ("I loved it; it was just like the first one."). With Shyamalan, you're getting thoughtful suspense with a message, not a creature feature, so it's important to keep that in mind walking in, and perhaps so should have the writer-director. The first nine-tenths of the movie were very strong, with a great cast hitting all the right notes (he seems to be an excellent director of kids) and careful pacing, but when the last veils were lifted, the presumably beautiful exotic dancer turns into the attractive college girl down the street; it does the job, but it's not all you had hoped for. Worth the trip for the 90% that's top shelf.