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Despite big-name billing, "The Sixth Sense" is a riveting thriller

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THE SIXTH SENSE Despite big-name billing, "The Sixth Sense" is a riveting thriller The big name in "The Sixth Sense" is Bruce Willis, who gives a strong but subtle performance. But the real star is the film's writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Remember the name of this 29-year-old Philadelphia filmmaker because he is a major talent with a vision and voice as remarkable as a young Spielberg's. Also pay attention to 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment, Willis' co-star. You probably don't remember him as Forrest Junior in "Forrest Gump," but you'll never forget him after "The Sixth Sense." The movie deals with child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Willis) who, after receiving a prestigious award for his work with children, is brutally accosted by one of his failures (Donnie Wahlberg). A year later, Malcolm tries to atone for his earlier mistake by taking the case of a young boy named Cole Sear (Osment), whose unvoiced fears have driven him away from everyone, including his mother (Toni Collette of "Muriel's Wedding"). ...read more.


When Cole begs him for help with the ghosts ("Make them go away!"), Malcolm responds quite sincerely, "I'm working on it." It would be absolutely criminal to reveal anything more about the plot, and you should avoid friends who have seen the movie and want to tell you about it. Suffice it to say that "The Sixth Sense" is genuinely creepy, heart-warming and utterly surprising - the best American film of the summer. A major Internet source remarked how the film seemed to come out of nowhere, with little pre-release publicity despite the presence of Willis. That's all for the good since too much hype, with which we have been inundated this season ("The Phantom Menace," "The Blair Witch Project"), can't help but dull almost any film's reception. ...read more.


Ultimately, however, "The Sixth Sense" is a triumph for its writer/director, Indian-born M. Night Shyamalan. Last year in "Wide Awake," the filmmaker explored another facet of childhood fears, as its diminutive hero sought to determine the existence of God after the death of his grandfather. Though his last film wore sentiment on its sleeve, Shyamalan nevertheless coaxed wonderful performances from his child performers as well as from Rosie O'Donnell, who played a frisky but kind nun. "The Sixth Sense" is both darker and more mature, even though it incorporates elements of horror and the supernatural. A few scenes in this movie will scare the bejeezus out of you, others will touch your heart. Again, like early Spielberg, who was equally wonderful with children and other worlds, Shyamalan spins an engrossing tale of terror, love and redemption. Most directors would have given their eyeteeth for Shyamalan's screenplay, but it's doubtful any of them could have directed it so well. ...read more.

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