SIGNS from M. Night Shyamalan – A Cinema Static Retrospect

by on May 5, 2010

in Entertainment, movie reviews

SIGNS from M Night Shyamalan

This movie review is about the 2002 movie, Signs from M. Night Shyamalan. Signs comes from a fascinating perspective during a worldwide disaster, of a single family and how they deal with certain aspects of the event.

Despite the fact that probably millions of people have seen this movie already, I’m writing it from two angles, for “two kinds of people.” The folks who have already seen the movie will say, ah, I get what that means. But I’ve also written this retrospective movie review with the person who has never seen it, in mind. As hard as that is to fathom, I believe there are still some that haven’t seen it. So this is a SPOILER FREE opinion of my experience from watching Signs.

Signs comes from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan, who wrote, directed and produced the movie. The cast includes Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin. It also has Cherry Jones (“24”) and a cameo by Shyamalan himself.

The film was a moderate success at the box office. They dropped about $72 million on the movie, making it and it has brought in $408 million worldwide, $60 million of it on the first weekend in the U.S..

What was unique about this movie was that it told the tale of a worldwide disaster, as perceived by a simple, single family living on their farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They a bit slow on the uptake, but very smart about their revelations, once they figure them out.

Mel Gibson plays Rev. Graham Hess, a grieving husband, whose faith in god has wavered of recent times. Joaquin Phoenix plays Merrill Hess, the brother of Graham, and uncle to his brothers kids, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin). Bo is the epitome of cute.

SIGNS with Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson and Rory Culkin and Cherry Jones

SIGNS (L-R) Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson and Rory Culkin and Cherry Jones

The family dynamics are a wonderful part of the movie as we watch each person absorb the news of what’s going on outside their small town, while dealing with their own piece of it themselves in their own backyard. Their backyard being a cornfield, I can say from personal experience, that cornfields can be very scary sometimes. Some of the dialog is wonderfully dry and humorous, with no ill-timed moments. Just practical, dry-witted delivery by the simple folk who take to tinfoil caps. The kids are wonderful, open eyed sources to what normally would have been dismissed for way too long, if it weren’t for the kids seeing things that adults “know” don’t happen.

Each character deals with the adversity going on around them in their own individual ways that does not take away from the other characters, weaving the entire tale into a seamless development. Throughout the movie, we get flashbacks to how the Reverend lost his wife, one bit at a time until the entire moment is explained. Each scene, again well placed within the story and not disruptive.

SIGNS with Mel Gibson and Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin

Mel Gibson, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin

I can’t say enough for how Shyamalan pulled it all together to tell this story that builds to quite the dramatic ending. He develops hectic physical scenes through the use of suggestions and your imagination. We find out there are no huge “female Scandinavian Olympians” outside their home, that baby monitors can monitor more than babies and that sometimes, there are so many signs right in our face, that we don’t see them until something forces us to take a step back and recognize that. Hopefully not too late.

One of the things I take away from this movie is just how tremendous Joaquin Phoenix is at delivering such a wide range of characters from the movies I’ve seen him in, from Gladiator to Hotel Rwanda. In Signs, I believed who he was portraying. It’s a shame he retired from acting. We’ve lost a real gem with his stepping back from the Hollywood scene.

See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences

In Signs, Shyamalan proves that everything happens… well, you’ll see.

Signs (Vista Series) on Amazon

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