Movie Name: The Sixth Sense
Studio: Spyglass Entertainment
Release Date(s): August 2, 1999 (Premiere)/August 6, 1999
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist trying to recover after being attacked in his own home by a violent patient named Vincent (Donnie Wahlberg) who claimed to see ghosts. His wife Anna (Olivia Williams) seems distant, and Malcolm doesn’t know how to get close to her anymore. When Malcolm finds a new young boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who is going through a similar problem as Vincent, hopes Malcolm hopes can fix the mistakes of his past. With Cole’s frustrated mother Lynn (Toni Collette) not understanding her son, hopes he can uncover the meaning of the strange gift and save before it is too late.
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense was a revolution. Loved by critics, the film received nominations for six Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Osment), Best Supporting Actress (Collette), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay (losing most to American Beauty).
Due to the style of The Sixth Sense, this movie can’t really be talked about without talking about the ending. Therefore, the review will be loaded with *****Spoilers***** so you probably shouldn’t read this review without seeing the movie since the ending must be discussed to understand the movie.
To refresh your memory, at the end of the movie, Willis learns that he was killed at the beginning of the movie and that yes he was helping Osment, but Osment was helping him also. All the strange interactions are explained, and Willis’ relationship with his wife makes sense in this revelation and the film ends at this point.
The Sixth Sense really did change things. The movie really brought back the trick ending, and it felt like after this film there were a number of trick endings from other movies like Frailty, Saw, The Others, and almost any other M. Night Shyamalan movies like Unbreakable, The Village, and to some extent Signs. Trick endings have been around forever, but this movie really popularized them again…for better or worse.
I enjoy this film, but I do have a bit of a problem with Shyamalan’s style of writing. The story is being written to the trick ending. That means the plot often really isn’t developed…it’s all about the switch. What really happens in The Sixth Sense? Osment helps one person (Mischa Barton in a young role), and the movie ends. It feels like a bit of letdown on the part of Osment’s character and it feels like he should have done more to help understand his abilities (Unbreakable has the same truncated ending problem).
I admit The Sixth Sense got me. I had the realization a second before Willis character did and I think that really is the sign of a good switch ending. You get the surprise of what is going on, you feel smart about figuring it out, and then you get to see the character make the realization. It can’t happen too early, and it can’t happen too late. The Sixth Sense is an enjoyable movie and due to its structure it definitely deserves rewatching at least once.
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