An Unbreakable record
AFTER making an astoundingly successful film like The Sixth Sense it is hard to maintain the standard, let alone better it. Anything would probably suffer by contrast. And yet Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable gives one the impression that here’s a master of suspense, a Hitchcock of the new millennium, who has his audience spellbound, virtually in a trance. And like The Sixty Sense it is a film which asks to be seen another time because it isn’t so easy to understand.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a sort of protector, unbreakable, and the lone survivor in a train crash while Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is his linear opposite — fragile and vulnerable. He is known as Mr Glass because of his weak, brittle bones which are unable to bear any stress. Opposites attract and the destinies of these two people are inextricably linked together. And what do they achieve?
Well, that’s what Unbreakable
is all about. But it is also about discovering one’s destiny and
asking questions like "what am I supposed to be doing in
life"? How the pieces of life sometimes fall in place and make
sense when you find the answer. How M. Night Shyamalan, born in a
family of doctors, decides to become a filmmaker and is quite happy
Unbreakable brings Willis and Jackson together after Pulp Fiction and Die Hard-With a Vengeance. But since those films both have matured immensely. Willis is no longer an action hero only. The sensitivity he displayed in The Sixty Sense is further probed in this film. As for Jackson, his role is a bit weird and he does it with a touch of the bizarre.
Dunn’s wife Audrey (Robin Wright Penn) gives the film its emotional impetus and it is her vulnerability that rounds off the character. His precocious son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) provides that element of suspense. But it is Dunn whose every movement is fraught with expectation. Aided by appropriate music, director Shyamalan unfolds the story layer by layer as he takes the viewer into dark corridors of suspense. What next, one seems to ask, and yet one is afraid of the bizarre truth.
May be Elijah’s disease "osteogenesis imperfecta" is as little known about today as schizophrenia was when Psycho was made in 1960 and that seems to account for the grey areas but Shyamalan works well with the available material to put together an imaginative screenplay. The film moves on two levels, the physical and the cerebral, but Shyamalan refrains from making a glutton of a meal. Restraint is the key word and he is supported by two very talented performers. Robin Wright Penn and Spencer Treat Clark (though he is no Haley Joel Osment) also make their presence felt in this thoroughly gripping entertainer which only reiterates the fact that Shyamalan has truly arrived as one of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers and that The Sixth Sense was not just a flash in the pan.
But Bedazzled is a bomb. The Faustian legend of a person selling his soul to the devil has been retold a number of times with varying success. Richard Donner did it with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the mid-1960s with little success, the only draw being the then six-bomb Raquel Welch who played Lust. But then baring was in its infancy.
In the new version of Bedazzled model Elizabeth Hurley (British actor Hugh Grant’s girlfriend) plays the devil, or rather she-devil (if they claim God was a woman, why not the devil), but with even less success.
When Elliott Richards (Brendan Fraser) has the hots for his office-colleagues Alison Gardener (Frances O’Conner), the she-devil makes him a proposition. "Sell your soul to me and you will get Allison plus seven wishes," she says. Stunned by her alleged sexiness (I thought whatever seductive powers she was supposed to have were left back in the make-up room), Elliott stutters, flutters and finally gives in.
But if you the viewer will be bedazzled
by the fare, think again. Bored is more like it. Director Harold Ramis
may have made a winner like Analyze This but he also makes some
dubs, like this one. After the first 10 minutes or so the film goes
downhill, downhill and never stops. So, thanks, no thanks, give Bedazzled
a miss or else the she-devil will take you.