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Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees's Blog

Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees • Location: Athens, Georgia
• Member since: March 2004
• 121 full reviews
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Revisiting Unbreakable
July 23rd, 2005 8:58AM

I watched M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable again last night for the first time since...well, probably since its theatrical run...and just as I was then, I was captivated. Shyamalan’s gift for evoking moving performances from his actors was probably never better than in that film, and watching Bruce Willis I once again concluded--as I did after seeing Sin City--that he has become the modern Bogart. I’d never have dreamed it in his Hudson Hawk days (who would have?). But age has given his face the look of a man who has seen too much, who feels things deeply, who has been worn down but not worn out--yet. He has become a remarkably skilled actor. He shows how vulnerable he can be in Unbreakable, which adds an elegant layer of complexity to his role in the film.

But there’s so much more in Unbreakable. The detail with which it’s crafted left me awed. I had the leisure to notice more of that crafting since I was seeing the film not for the first time, and the way Shyamalan uses mirror images and (sometimes warped) reflections to show the characters is a handsome way of reminding us that so much of the story is about identity--discovering who one is. Just as his placement of David, the Bruce Willis characters, in doorways evokes that sense of David being on the (figurative) threshold of a new life, a new future. But both those devices are also simply effective visual ways of framing the characters and giving structure to their presentation, like the panels in a comic book. The evocative musical score and the use of silence add immeasurably to the power of the unfolding story too.

And yet the story and the characters and the emotional experience aren’t overwhelmed by technique. I got swept up in the story just as if I hadn’t seen it before. Remembering how crushingly disappointed I was in The Village, I’m holding out hope that Shyamalan’s next project will be as powerful as Unbreakable.

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