Unpacking James McAvoy’s ‘Split’ Personalities

James Mcavoy Split
By  · Published on December 11th, 2017

One of the best performances of the year was…well more than one.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, featuring James McAvoy as someone suffering from multiple personality disorder, joins his unconventional superhero universe with a mix of horror and acting wonder. This is treacherous water, as is any task that calls for the emulation of a mental handicap by an able-bodied performer, but McAvoy finds delicacy in his performance even if the plot takes it elsewhere.

Addressing this performance, which is one of the most complex of the year, is Kate McKeaney’s video essay. The essay, which focused in on individual personalities in McAvoy’s performance over the course of the film, allows careful analysis of each’s nuances, facial tics, and more.

Putting this over the diagnosing dialogue of the film’s therapist character is both subversion of the treatment – which seems ineffective on the character’s personalities – and explanatory for newcomers.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).