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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

11.01.2001

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copyright 1999-2001
DigsMagazine.com.

flick pick | Unbreakable 2000
Directed + written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
drama
Watch it when youre in the mood for
something:  mind-bending 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: / 5 

Plot synopsis Football stadium security guard David Dunn is just an ordinary guy, maybe a little sadder than most, with a rocky marriage and a strained relationship with his son. Hes coming back home to Philadelphia after an interview for a job in New York when his train suddenly derails. Everyone on board is killed, but David, miraculously, walks away unscathed. No broken bones, not even a scratch the doctors are mystified by how hes survived. One man, however, thinks he might have an explanation. Elijah Price, owner of an upscale art gallery that specializes in limited edition comic book artwork, proposes a seemingly far-fetched theory: that David, like the real-life version of the more exaggerated superheroes found in comic book mythology, has an unusual gift that makes his body stronger than most, impervious to the normal human pains and illnesses. Elijah, who suffers from a rare disease that makes his bones fragile as glass, sees a connection between himself and David: the two are simply opposite ends of the same spectrum. David promptly dismisses Elijah as a wacko then begins to notice some extraordinary things about himself.

Review Im a big fan of comic books in theory, that is. I love the concept of superheroes vs. supervillains; I adore the mythology and the dramatic visuals. But I still have a hard time actually reading a comic book. They require a bit more suspension of disbelief than Im willing to give. Which is pretty much how I felt about Unbreakable when I first saw it in the theatre. I liked the films slow-moving moodiness; I loved Bruce Willis sad-eyed everyman slowly pondering the possibility that he might be destined for more. But the trademark Shyamalan surprise ending just seemed implausible, and out-of-place in a movie that looks more like a realistic drama than the usual sort of comic-book-inspired action thriller. The argument that ensued between my boy and myself was it clever or ridiculous? made me realize that this was one movie I disliked that nonetheless merited a second viewing. So we rented the DVD. What really struck me on take two was what a fantastic job Shyamalan and cinematographer Eduardo Serra do of painting the world of Unbreakable as a comic book world, framing it in multi-perspective, beautifully tight compositions straight out of the kind of comic books Elijah Price collects with such a passion. The colors, too, are comic book-inspired big gorgeous blocks of rich blue, red, yellow, green punctuating vast expanses of darkness. Its a very clever way to reinforce the films premise, that comic books are based on real world stories. In the end, Im still not entirely convinced that I like Unbreakables final scene its melodrama ruins the beautiful sense of quiet atmosphere that pervades the rest of the film -- but I have to concede this: Shyamalan sets us up for the revelation, subtly but with a sure hand, the whole way through. reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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