jswysin’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The world moves for love, it kneels before it in awe."
I know my credibility as a film fan, and possibly my sanity, may be called into question, but M. Night Shyamalan's masterpiece doesn't feature ghosts, superheroes, or aliens. It involves the things we shall not speak of (but really should, like religion, politics, etc.), good colors and bad colors, and, most importantly, an affecting love story wrapped up in a timely fable of post-9/11 fear-mongering. With a surprisingly deep cast (Judy Greer! Michael Pitt! Jesse Eisenberg!) spearheaded by an incredibly accomplished breakout performance by Bryce Dallas Howard, whose potential is now being wasted, with support from Joaquin Phoenix in the Marion Crane role, Adrien Brody as the sad and humorous village idiot, and William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver giving the proceedings gravitas. James Newton Howard provides a beautifully haunting score and Roger Deakins combines his power with Shyamalan at the peak of his craft to create a visual feast. A hand sticking out into the darkness. An act of violence halfway through the film, shifting focus. Everything to do with Phoenix and BDH sitting on a porch, whispering their feelings in the fog. That yellow cloak caked in mud. I just find so much of this to be memorable and exciting and intense. The black boxes in every corner of the village, filled with ominous secrets, bother me the slightest bit, even if they have their place in a film about propaganda and the consequences of forced ignorance. But of course all everyone wants to talk about is the twist, the dumb ending, how preposterous it all is, and that's fine. I would never claim it's a better twist than The Sixth Sense and could even agree that the final reveal is needless in the grand scheme of things (though aren't we partly to blame for heaping too much credit and attention on previous twists), but it's far from the derailing conclusion it's made out to be. It doesn't discount all the greatness that preceded it. It's not perfect. But I love this film anyway.