THE SIXTH SENSE
Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia
Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Mischa Barton
M. Night Shyamalan
Haley Joel Osment, best known until
now as Forrest Gump Jr., plays a gifted young boy named
Cole Sear, known popularly by his classmates as
"Freak." Cole has the unique gift of being able
to see dead people as if they are alive and walking among
us. This gift brings him into contact with psychologist
Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). In Cole, Crowe sees a
chance to redeem himself for the perceived failure he
feels after one of his disgruntled patients took out a
grudge by shooting Crowe and killing himself.
Sixth Sense" is one of those movies that gets you
thinking. As the film plays, you find yourself feverishly
keeping score of all the subtle little hints and clues
that may or may not end up coming into play later on, and
even after it's done, your mind wanders back again. And
again. And again. You keep trying to figure out when the
filmmakers might have dropped the ball and given
themselves away. But it's not to be found. That alone is
why it was a breath of fresh air to this critic.
"The Sixth Sense" stands head-and-shoulders
above any number of recent Hollywood thrillers, and is
easily one of the best films of the summer.
Like Crowe, we are clued in early on that there's
different about the boy, yet we're made to
play the same guessing game as the psychologist. Fear
seems to hang in very the air, with the dreary dull skies
of Philadelphia seemingly tied into the boy's malaise.
There are moments in "the Sixth Sense" that
inspire genuine dread. Not the fear of some assorted
grotesquerie we see on the screen, but rather the ominous
tingle that travels down our spine when something unknown
The wholly real and believable bond between boy and
doctor is only part of what helps lend credibility to the
unbelievable. Osment never regresses into the
tried-and-true "Hollywood kid," and instead
manages to more than hold his own against his
above-the-line co-star. Willis too is in fine form here.
I remember writing of "Armageddon" that he was
the glue holding the entire ode to THX together, and
similar comments apply here. Willis plays Crowe as a
tortured and all-too human protagonist, and his trauma
dealing with not only his inability to help his young
charge but his wife's possible infidelity ring true.
The film marks the sophomore effort from director K.
Night Shyamalan, and his analytical way of having the
camera pan and zoom and rush across the sets allows us
the chance to take in every last detail, scouring for the
"plants." That is, those little hints the
filmmakers always drop early on that will be brought out
later on. Hitchcock used to talk about his McGuffins,
false leads placed in the film with the express purpose
of throwing us off. Like any student of post-Hitchcock
film, I kept searching for the McGuffins in "The
Sixth Sense" and actually I still am.
The film's coda seems the perfect summation to everything
we have seen in the previous 107 minutes, at once
wrenching and cathartic. I hesitate to say much of
anything, for fear of what I might reveal.
"The Sixth Sense" is riveting
viewing without its ending, but with, it becomes one
of those great movies that will no doubt come to be
remembered in years to come as a triumph of technique
and storytelling. Hitch would be proud.
Zaki Hasan of Final Cut