Unbreakable (2000)

Unbreakable
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
(number 451)

Bruce Willis plays the unbreakable man in a loving homage to comic book stories and the heroes and villains featured in them. M Night’s second film was in my view, unfairly rejected by fans and critics. I have a suspicion that people wanted the same experience as seeing the Sixth Sense for the first time. They wanted that level of twist and surprise, but of course, going in knowing that there would likely be a twist… you’re not going to have that same experience.

Robin Wright of Princess Bride fame plays his wife and she gives a sad and heartbreaking performance, showing the distance in her relationship with David. The incredible pain of being in a relationship which is failing… where there was love but instead there’s just hurt and pain and confusion. She makes us feel it too, with the strength of her performance. Bruce is good too, but he comes across as more blank.

The movie is a slow burn, it’s maybe too slow for some people. I am aware my patience for film pacing is greater than others, because I’ve seen so many very slow movies in Film Festivals. The slow burn works for me, in this movie, because David is slowly discovering that there is something weird about his life, that his body isn’t like normal people’s and it’s not something that would be believable if it happened all at once.

I find it gives you time to appreciate the performances, the cinematography and the music. I love that the music in this movie reflects the character’s journey, not necessarily the action on screen. This is most obviously shown in the scene where David finally takes action as a vigilante. As he fights and then kills a villain the music swells in a heroic ‘coming into yourself’ theme.

The most powerful scene for me is the one where David’s son comes into the kitchen with a gun. It’s a shocking moment, parents taken by surprise by their young child… who is convinced that this is the only way to show his father how unusual, amazing he is. His son is so sure that he wants to prove it to his doubting father, and you have to admit, it would be a definitive proof that David is extraordinary.

Does it make me love the people? You definitely feel for what they’re going through. Maybe love is a bit strong here, but then… I really do feel for them, and I suppose that’s the point. Empathy, recognising the human condition, that’s really what I mean when I ask this question, so yes. The answer is yes to this one.

Bechdel test: Robin Wright’s doctor talks to a female nurse, about Samuel L Jackson’s character arriving for his appointment. I dunno if this counts, it’s not about a relationship with a man but it is about a man.

Best line: “They call me Mr Glass”

State of Mind: Still a great comic book movie, but not for everyone. I love the power of it, and the understated nature of the story even though it deals with huge ideas.

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