“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
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.