THE SIXTH SENSE

Susan Granger’s review of “THE SIXTH SENSE” (Touchstone Pictures)

It’s very important that you be in your seat for the beginning of this psychological thriller and stay all the way through to the end to comprehend the nuances of the twisting plot. Bruce Willis plays a renown child psychologist who is emotionally torn between spending time with his lovely wife (Olivia Williams) and helping desperately needy eight year-old named Cole (Haley Joel Osment), who is haunted by dark visions that terrify him. He sees dead people, restless spirits. These eerie ghosts appear everywhere – at home, at school, on the street – and they reach out, trying to communicate. Often they actually wound him. Cole lives with his stressed-out single mother (Toni Collette), who is empathetic, but he is terrified to tell her his secret, to reveal his unexplainable paranormal powers. Then Willis comes on the scene. Slowly, the young boy opens up to him. A trust develops, as the psychologist wrestles with how the fragile child can cope with the harrowing, unresolved problems that surround him. Philadelphia-based, 28 year-old writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (“Wide Awake”) and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (“The Silence of the Lambs”) create an intriguing, elliptical visual style, building a melancholy aura of suspense and creating a tense, slowly building menace. Combining his spiritual and mystical Indian roots with his American upbringing, Shyamalan achieves a subdued, provocative balance between what’s real and what’s imagined. Bruce Willis drives the story with a strong, poignant performance but it’s Haley Joel Osment whose talent is an amazement. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Sixth Sense” is an ominous, unsettling, subtle 9. Only after the film’s chilling conclusion will you be able to fit the pieces of this ingenious supernatural puzzle together.

09