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Signs (PG-13)
Touchstone Picture
Official Site
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast:Mel Gibson (Father Graham Hess), Joaquin Phoenix (Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (Morgan Hess), Abigail Breslin (Bo Hess), Cherry Jones (Officer Caroline Paski), Patricia Kalember (Colleen Hess), Jose L. Rodriguez (Radio Host)


“Faith” is defined as “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.” However, we would not be human if we did not still look for signs—anything that might support our fragile notions, especially those regarding God.

Father Graham Hess (Gibson) is a man in desperate need of a sign. The tragic loss of his wife has left him emotionally numb and spiritually bereft. Younger brother Merrill (Phoenix) has moved back to help with Graham’s two precocious kids, although it often seems the grown-ups are the ones in greater need of guidance.

When crop circles mysteriously appear in their cornfields, they try to dismiss it as a practical joke. However, when crop circles start to appear around the world, events take a dramatic turn, forcing the Hess family out of its stupor and eventually causing Graham to re-examine his beliefs.

With Signs, M. Night Shyamalan once again brings us a film that is not only enormously entertaining, but also an insightful study of the hopes and fears within us all. A non-stop thrill ride from the moment we cut from the opening credits, Shyamalan masterfully builds the suspense by allowing details to be revealed in their own time, through the filters of a knowing glance or a fragment of a memory. At the same time, Shyamalan creates moments of sublimely comical humor that break the tension until we find ourselves teetering at the top of the next drop on the rollercoaster ride.

Mel Gibson gives one his best performances ever: deep, moving, and funny, his face a canvas for unspoken emotions. Gibson’s very body language relays his character’s inner struggle and discomfort better than any dialogue ever could. Joaquin Phoenix does a wonderful job in the role of Merrill, perfectly capturing that bittersweet time in life when one faces the prospect of shrugging off the dreams of youth to take on the mantle of adulthood.

In the end, after the excitement and exhilaration of the film have faded, we are left with the thought that although we may not be able to control certain events, we do control how we interpret the signs. And that makes all the difference.

—Sandhya Shardanand

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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