Movie review

Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix,
Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin

Director : M Night Shyamalan

SignsIn the true spirit of a genius at work, M Night Shyamalan once again shows the world how it should be done.
    As with The Sixth Sense (which I 'got' early on) and Unbreakable (which I didn't until it stuck it's thumb in my eye), he is the bus driver pointing out interesting landmarks on the third 'Shyamalan Mystery Tour'. Nobody on the bus really knows where they are going . . . sure, they have a vague idea - there's a big crop circle on the movie poster - but that aside, the ride alone is worth the admission fee.
    As with all great mystery tours, it's not so much how it ends, but what happened on the way, that you take home with you.

Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix make for a good pair of conductors. Gibson throws in a sterling performance as a priest who has turned away from his faith following the death of his wife, and Phoenix puts up an equally concerted effort as his part-time-loser brother. Both guys work their talent in a way not seen much from either in the last three or four years.
    In the spirit of the movie, I'll keep the plot down, though doubtless you'll read it elsewhere. A crop circle appears in the Hess family cornfield, and the mystery and paranoia that creeps up on the family is subsequently played out as an unfolding human drama, rather than as a dumb-ass sci-fi flick (which it isn't). Shyamalan ultimately bridges the gap between Hitchcock and Spielberg at their best, with much credibility intact.

Whilst not as instant a hit as it's predecessors, Signs is a real movie with a great story. The Hess kids, played by Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin, not only add some much needed light-hearted relief, but also contribute to the realism of the story - with the crop circle and potential 'alien invasion' playing a very subtle second fiddle to the Hess family chemistry.
    Overall, you can't ask for much more. It's neat that the hype has been held down. There are no expectations of Signs other than that of a 'quality flick that might be a bit weird', and that's a good enough excuse as any to get on the bus.

:: Sion Smith

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