Bruce Willis - The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense" is certainly different from the kind of horror thriller that the advertisements make it out to be. It's a film that demands patience as it slowly leads us down the path that it's set out for us. When a film like this takes it's time, it's up to us whether or not to choose to follow. "6th Sense" has an uncommon amount of confidence in the way that it's paced. Facts are given out with a controlled grace, a spark of storytelling electricity to lead the film on towards another twist. We follow the story on a film like this not only for those reasons, but for the reason that we're presented with fully written characters as well as a smartly written screenplay.

It seems as if director M. Night Shayamalan seems to be the first to harness the talents of Bruce Willis in what I consider to be the best performance.  At first glance, the performances here seem to be muted, lacking any sort of intensity. Upon closer look though, there's a subtlety to Willis's performance, a detail in the emotions his character expresses, that hasn't been seen from him before. It's a very impressive performance and actually, redeems the kind of performance that he gave in "Armageddon".

The film revolves around a young boy named Cole(Haley Joel Osment in what's easily one of the top performances of the year so far) who is convinced that he can see spirits of the recently dead- not only that, but that they try to talk to him. The doctor that ends up aiding the young boy(played by Willis) is just coming off of problems of his own as a former patient breaks into his house in a fury to start the film, attacking him. He sees instant similarities in this boy with the former patient that attacked him and he sets out to do his best not to fail this patient. Only in going back to work, he's left his wife(an excellent performance in a film full of many by "Rushmore"'s Oliva Williams) behind, a "second place" in his life.

There's a lot of original tones and styles presented in a story that has a backbone pleasingly similar to that of Christopher McQuarrie's 1995 crime thriller, "The Usual Suspects". There are plenty of twists and turns here as well, but the most interesting thing is how the sort of "horror" material is presented. It's shown in such a way that presents the characters as believing the facts about what this child sees, and the most impressive thing is that the dialogue is written so well that we believe that they believe in the supernatural- that they can believe in the unbelievable. Cole hides his secret from his mother, until an intensely acted scene later in the film that is not only well-acted, but written extremely well. Ace cinematographer Tak Fujimoto also does excellent work here, making interiors as well as the city streets chilling as the camera creeps along.

If there's really anything wrong with this picture, it's that it tends to become a little too slow for its own good on occasion. When the film works, even though it's certainly a slow at points, it maintains a strong sense of direction, never feeling aimless or pointless. Still, the film could have used a little more consistent tension throughout to help the audience through the slow points. There could have been a slight bit of editing here and there as well. The ending is one heck of a shocker, wildly suprising and completely believable almost wrapping up the film too well.