By Matthew Bitz
I must admit I had my doubts at first, Bruce Willis playing the part of a mild-mannered psychologist? Bruce Willis being quiet and thoughtful? What is this, Oprahs book club? Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is quite possibly one of the best films I have seen for some time. Not only is it well-written, but it is well acted by both Willis and by young Haley-Joel Osmont who gives a riveting performance as a child haunted by ghosts who are seeking his aid.
The film begins with Willis and his wife celebrating an award given to him by the city of Philadelphia for his work with children, however, their happiness is cut short by the break-in of a former patient. A patient who turns out to be Willis only failure, the man pulls a gun, and for what seems to be the fiftieth time, Bruce Willis is shot.
At this point I was skeptical, and I hunkered down with my popcorn for this seemed to be running along an old and well-worn storyline, Bruce Willis looking manly, Bruce Willis getting shot, Bruce Willis clutching his wound.
Cut to a year later, Willis has lost faith in his own ability as a doctor and is searching for redemption. He finds it in the person of Osmont, who mirrors the personality of his only failure.
It is when this young actor appeared that this film began to interest me, for he plays his role with such an intensity that I found myself fascinated. I must confess that seldom have I seen a performance of this caliber from any leading actor, let alone a kid who isnt big enough to reach the top shelf in your kitchen cabinet. With his talent at such an early age, we may well be looking at the next DeNiro or Nicholson.
I must give credit to Willis for taking on a role completely outside his genre, something that many leading actors and actresses fail to do. But he is far out acted by Osmont, who will surprise no one who has seen this film by picking up an Oscar nomination.
While this film is certainly not for small children, who will be frightened by the ghosts that appear from time to time, it is not a slasher film such as Scream or its many copycat films of recent years. If you see it, I think youll be treated to a well-crafted film whose characters are as intriguing as the ending itself.