The Sixth Sense (1999) (PG-13)

Though the movie is best known for the visceral ending and beginning, "The Sixth Sense" is actually a quite moody and emotional piece that demands much more from the viewer than just the ability to be scared. True it's known to most as a thriller and that would be a just branding of the story; but having seen the movie now a few times, the scares get left behind and what's left is actually more of a love story than anything else.
The movie's beginning, which I refuse to describe, is quite unapologetic. It drops you right in the middle of a nasty situation, one that will shape the rest of the film.
We meet Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his wife Anne (Olivia Williams). He is a child psychologist whose been given an award by the mayor of Philadelphia. Yet, as most people figure out, he is not perfect. He has made a mistake. This mistake will cost him.
One year later Dr. Crowe is trying to help a young boy with a secret. This boy is named Cole (Haley Joel Osment) and he seems, at best, disturbed. He is having trouble with his classes, he often goes into weird tantrums.
His mother is trying to cope with being a single mom, working more than one job, and having to deal with an emotionally vulnerable child.
This is your basic premise...I don't feel like going in to too much more detail.
It's a shame that the most famous line from "The Sixth Sense" gives away a large part of the plot. Most people are familiar with the infamous, shocking ending; but I don't feel like sharing anything lips are sealed.
M. Night Shyamalan has been a dark horse of Hollywood ever since this film. He gained himself two Oscar nominations for directing and writing; yet this is the peak of his career as most critics see it. Think of his most recent films, "The Last Airbender" and "After Earth"—two of the biggest flops and most hated films in recent years. In fact, some polls have "The Last Airbender" cited as one of the worst movies ever made.
Yet his early work is actually not bad, and it's best seen with this piece. For a breakout piece, you couldn't ask for a better movie than "The Sixth Sense"; but most people get hung up on the scary moments of the movie.
The movie isn't about the scares, those are just a fun part of the film. It's about survival and courage...and it's about love.
Dr. Crowe and Anne have been growing apart for the past year. They rarely talk anymore and Anne is slowly sinking into depression. It makes Malcolm angry to see her this way; but he can't really do anything about it.
"The Sixth Sense" is beautifully filmed with wonderful performances. It's incredibly smart and quite nicely outlines the problems with perception. For it's a movie about movies, a film about filming.
M. Night Shyamalan may have gone a little crazy after making this film, but at least we have this to compare.
The real star of the movie is Haley Joel Osment who blew everyone out of the water with his innocent and haunted performance. But as good as he is, Bruce Willis matches him and Olivia Williams matches him and Toni Collette matches her. It's a wonderful quartet of acting that unnecessarily gets cut down to a duo for many.
The film itself merits second watchings, but nothing can compare with the first time you see the movie.
It's not perfect, but it tried its best.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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