Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist who has just gotten an honor from the city of Philadelphia for his work with children. He and his wife Anna (Olivia Williams) are celebrating when their home is invaded by a former disturbed patient named Vincent Gray (Donnie Wahlberg). Gray shoots Malcolm and then shoots himself.
In the fall Malcolm thinks he’s healed and is ready to go back to work. His patient is Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Cole’s father left when Cole was younger, so he lives with his mother Lynn (Toni Collette). Malcolm’s notes show that Cole is a quiet loner with little social skills. Malcolm hopes that if he can help Cole it will make up for the failure he had with Vincent. He knows that Cole has a secret that he is not yet ready to share. Malcolm has also been having some problems himself with his wife. Since he was shot the two of them have grown distant. Almost never speaking to each other.
After seeing Cole several times the boy begins to trust Malcolm and is willing to tell him his secret, something he has never told anyone including his mother. Cole can see ghosts. They are people who don’t know they are dead so they walk around as if they are still alive.
At first Malcolm thinks Cole is delusional. With things getting worse at home Malcolm begins to think that he should refer Cole to someone else and concentrate on his marriage. Cole begs him to not give up. He tells Malcolm that he is the only one who can help him. Cole then realizes that Malcolm doesn’t believe him about the ghosts.
Later that night Malcolm is reviewing tapes he made with his sessions with Vincent. Something on the tape gets his attention. He turns the volume up high. In the background he hears someone talking in Spanish. The voice is saying “I don’t want to die.” Malcolm now understands that Vincent and Cole both could see and hear ghosts. He returns to Cole and asks him what he thinks the ghosts want. Cole thinks they want help. Malcolm agrees. He suggests that if Cole listens to them and helps them, maybe they will go away. Perhaps that’s all they want. Someone to help them.
“The Sixth Sense” was released in 1999 and was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is a supernatural psychological thriller. A ghost story. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Shyamalan, Best Supporting Actor for Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Collette.
There isn’t a lot of action but the intensity of the story builds and for the length of the film you are on the edge of your seat. Yes, the pacing is slow but since I was wrapped up in both the story and the acting I didn’t mind. The film is quite a contradiction. It’s scary and heartwarming at the same time. Full of subtext and nothing in the way of violence since everyone is already dead. As for not realizing what was going on I was OK with that too. Since I am one of those that just watch a movie instead of trying to anticipate what will happen, I never saw the twist coming.
Bruce Willis’ easy style works just as well as a child psychiatrist as it does as a cop after bad guys. Toni Collette is the most tolerant and supporting mother I’ve ever seen. As for Haley Joel Osment, he is spooky and absolutely steals the movie. He is an old man in a child’s body.
According to director M. Night Shyamalan, Donnie Wahlberg lost 43 pounds for the role of Vincent Gray. Shyamalan often uses the color red as a portent of something evil or spiritual. The use of red is evident in “The Sixth Sense” as well as cold when a spirit or ghost is upset.