Glass ★★

A low-budget, high-concept superhero movie that’s as clever in its design as it is joyless in its execution, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is meant to be seen as some kind of demented self-portrait, but which of its dull characters is the long-suffering auteur meant to be? Is he “Unbreakable” strongman David Dunn (a vegetative Bruce Willis), the born survivor who can withstand any amount of pain and keep on coming back for more? Is he Elijah Price (a cunning Samuel L. Jackson), the brittle mastermind who takes everything too personally, and prides himself on the devious ingenuity of his plots? Is he “Split” antagonist Kevin Wendell Crumb (an exhausting James McAvoy), who suffers from an exaggerated personality disorder that makes it difficult to guess what he’s going to do next, or to reconcile his limitless potential with his glaring inability to control it?

Or is Shyamalan the random passerby he plays in one of his signature cameos, who’s eager to tell anyone who will listen about how he turned his life around with the power of positive thinking?

The truth of the matter is that Shyamalan can be found in each of these two-dimensional cutouts, but the exact geometry of how these broken shards fit together is ultimately besides the point in a film where they’re all so easy to see through. The trouble with “Glass” isn’t that its creator sees his own reflection at every turn, or that he goes so far out of his way to contort the film into a clear parable for the many stages of his turbulent career; the trouble with “Glass” is that its mildly intriguing meta-textual narrative is so much richer and more compelling than the asinine story that Shyamalan tells on its surface.

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