Signs β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

"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?"


The screen is filled with faces through most of this final piece of M. Night Shyamalan's trilogy of great films that started his career. Signs is at once a microcosmic alien invasion picture told through the lens of one family in rural Pennsylvania and also an emotional character study of each member of this family as this worldwide crisis envelops their individual ones.

I had not seen this in quite some and what I'm left with after this viewing is M. Night's strong sense of control. Control with his script. Control with the camera. There's a laser focus that he has in this film and the two before it (being The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) that he loses as his further ensconcing into the Hollywood system seemingly made him more reckless with his original stories. That control seems centralized on his characters, their motivations, and most essentially their faces. He lets his actors tell the story when most directors would focus on the invasion; he lets their faces be the canvas when most other directors would focus on large set pieces in order to further the story.

Accepting your fate, or fate in a general thematic sense, is a strong, central theme across M. Night Shyamalan's body of work and here he plays with it by pushing it right through a mirror into our faces. But because of the restraint he's working with here, it does not feel sensationalized like it does in his later, messier works. Moments in the past, words, phrases, possible coincidences, character tendencies have all been leading up these moments and the crescendo is equally explosive and heartbreaking. This theme right here, used to perfection is what makes this his best film along with Unbreakable.

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