SIXTH SENSE, THE
Award winning child psychologist Dr Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) was once unable to help a
scared youngster face down his demons. Sometime later, an eight year old boy's terrible,
terrifying secret challenges him to make good where he failed before. The boy, Cole Sear
(Haley Joel Osment), is not a regular case, and his mother Lynn (Toni Collett) is a single
mother battling guilt, trying to survive and understanding little about her unique son.
Once Cole reveals his extraordinary secret - only he knows it, only he sees them, only he
knows they're dead - to Crowe, the healing begins - but Crowe has a profound shock in
store when he discovers the link between the boy's 'gift' and his own redemption.
"Indian-born, Philadelphia based director M. Night Shaymalan (M should stand for
Mid...) has fashioned a film that clutches your throat in a loving cinematic embrace
for its entire running time, squeezing gently, holding you somewhere between fear and
elation with masterly control. The brazen casting of action man Bruce Willis in the role
of a thinker is only bettered by the find of Haley Joel Osment, who plays a troubled eight
year old with an amazing burden/gift that marks him as a freak; the irony is, the kid's
acting is so tantalisingly credible, he seems like a freak of a child actor with a vast
range and totally mesmerising. Astonishing for its sensitivity, The Sixth Sense plays both
as scary ghost story and as intimate human drama, through the veracity of its characters.
Olivia Williams as Crowe's wife, provides valuable support in a role that ends up going
somewhere you don't expect, and Toni Collette is riveting as Cole's battling mum. Great
writing, great direction, great production design and a great score make this a standout
entertainment. No message, no fancy footwork with digital FX, but a human scale drama that
- while unique - is accessible to us all on every level. The woman in the seat next to me
jumped out of it a few times, sniffed a teary nose, as well as laughing occasionally;
that's an indication of the range of emotional buttons the film manages to hit."
Andrew L. Urban
"Gripping and sensitive, The Sixth Sense makes all the senses work overtime. From
the very beginning when James Newton Howard's enigmatic, eclectic music makes goose bumps
and the hairs on the back of the neck stand upright, The Sixth Sense takes us on a journey
into the shadowy territory in our minds. We open a door into the terror of the worst kind
– we are not sure whether it's real or imaginary. And what sanctuary can we find,
with nowhere to hide? M. Night Shyamalan brings us an absorbing psychological thriller
that marries exceptional performances through an intelligent and thought provoking plot.
Haley Joel Osment, who plays the central character may only be 11 years old, but don't let
that fool you. Here is a consummate actor who, like his character, is old beyond his
years, and whose expressive, mature performance will touch your heart. Bruce Willis is
superb as the dedicated child psychologist with the gift of communication. Willis has
never been more poignant or controlled; he skillfully layers the essence of his humanity.
His screen chemistry with Olivia Williams beautifully reflects the significance and pathos
of marriage, and it is great to see Toni Collette in her best role since Muriel's Wedding.
Collette dons the persona of the caring but tormented mother with just the right balance
of emotions. Shyamalan creates the moods reflecting loneliness, obsession and the terror
of being alone with power. The Sixth Sense is about finding your place in the world. It's
about accepting who you are, liking yourself and overcoming fear. It will haunt you,
especially when you're alone."
"M. Night Shyamalan's unsettling new film is one of the best movies Hollywood's produced in a very long time. It has some very good elements and one outstanding one: the superb performance by eleven year old Haley Joel Osment as the haunted 8 year old, Cole Sear. His work is so pivotal to the film that it is impossible to imagine it working without him. He shows a maturity in performance that the vast majority of actors will never reach no matter how long they live. He does the apparently simple things well: he listens, he reacts, he is completely open. Somehow this young boy has found an emotional loading for the tormented Cole which is extraordinary in its depth, and never overplayed. A more sensitive and intelligent performance has rarely, if ever, been seen from an eleven year old boy. The very good aspects of the film include the performance by Toni Collette and a most impressive script. Collette is evocative as Cole's working class, single mother, proving once again that she is a major talent, capable of a broad range of characters. Shyamalan's script is almost great, but misses on a key moment. It is extremely tight, contains some good surprises, keeps our interest throughout. That is until a point late in the film that plays out the solution to the boy's problems. Here Shyamalan seems to literally lose the plot. The plot is stunningly regained but this is a major hitch in an otherwise excellent piece. It's got its scary bits, sad bits, surprise bits - all that's really needed for a good time away from reality. But see it early, before a loud mouth "friend" spoils some of these surprises."
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CAST: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan,
Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Tambakis, Jeffrey Zubernis
DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan
PRODUCER: Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Barry Mendel
SCRIPT: M. Night Shyamalan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto A.S.C.
EDITOR: Andrew Mondshein
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Larry Fulton
RUNNING TIME: 107 MINUTES
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 14, 1999
VIDEO RELEASE: April 12, 2000
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Touchstone Pictures Home Video
FESTIVALS: Opening film, inaugural Noosa Film Festival, September 2, 1999.