The Sixth Sense
Director: M. Night Shyamalan. Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Glenn Fitzgerald, Mischa Barton. Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan.


An elegantly shot and admirably acted mystery, at least a cut above what the end of summer tends to offer. Haley Joel Osment was an overnight sensation as Cole Sear, a strange, anxious young boy who has trouble making friends with anyone except his psychotherapist (Bruce Willis). Plus, the material world seems to have an odd relation to Cole: temperatures drop in his presence, or in rooms where he's recently been; photographs of Cole have odd gleams; drawers and cabinets open and shut and household objects move around, though he denies having touched any of them. As the film unfolds, the reasons for all of this become clear, and though writer-director M. Night Shyamalan withstands the urge to rush the film, he also severely underestimates the transparency of a key twist. That The Sixth Sense is, at some level, a machine for generating these twists is undeniable, since a surprising number of characters are left twisting in the end by the film's end, despite the heavily imposed tone of redemptive clarity. What finally distinguishes the picture, then, is the acting and the production values. Osment's gorgeous work is matched by a subtly brilliant Toni Collette as his quietly agonizing mother, easily the most believable single mom in a year's worth of Hollywood entertainment and a profoundly sympathetic creation. Cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, a veteran of Jonathan Demme's latter-day work, works perfectly in the somber, chamber-piece hues which Shyamalan has assigned the film ("assigned" is almost always the right word for Shyamalan), and his rigid, formally controlled framings only augment the palpably suppressed fear and sorrow all over the movie. Toward the same ends, James Newton Howard contributes a wisely minimalist score. Good for the movie for remaining an oblique character piece for so long; it's when The Sixth Sense leaves the character-study path that its weaknesses and essential arrogance are most obvious. B–


Academy Award Nominations:
Best Picture
Best Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Best Supporting Actress: Toni Collette
Best Supporting Actor: Haley Joel Osment
Best Original Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
Best Film Editing: Andrew Mondshein

Golden Globe Nominations:
Best Supporting Actor: Haley Joel Osment
Best Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan

Other Awards:
Satellite Awards: Best Screenplay; Best Film Editing

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