Blocks a dissociative identity disorder. Flashback

Lots of James McAvoy in the psychological thriller "Split"

Berlin (dpa) - It's this crazy grin and this haunted look that make James McAvoy so threatening. In addition, a shaved head. And the whole thing 23 times.

So many identities of Kevin are attested, two of them are considered "undesirable". But these two of all people are taking more and more control of the man who kidnaps three girls right at the beginning of the psychological thriller "Split" and locks them in a specially built dungeon.

Of course, the next two hours will deal with the question of whether the young people will get out of here alive. But that takes a back seat. Superficially, psychological models are developing - between Kevin or his alter egos and the kidnapped outsider Casey and his therapist Dr. Fletcher. Although decades apart, both women give equally strong counterparts to a brilliant McAvoy.

A few years ago he played a kind of madman in "Bastard". This time the 37-year-old Brit embodies several characters in the truest sense of the word: sometimes a lisping child, sometimes a vain lady, sometimes a creative fashion illustrator, sometimes a strict man with a cleanliness neurosis and a penchant for dancing naked girls.

So that the audience doesn't get too much, only a selection from the 23-strong potpourri is shown. McAvoy plays these characters very forcefully, often with smooth transitions within seconds. "It's the most complicated role I've ever written," says screenwriter, director and co-producer M. Night Shyamalan.

He was already responsible for successes such as “The Sixth Sense” and “The Visit” and claims to create something new with every work. To do this, this time he is applying his knowledge of the so-called dissociative identity disorder from his studies.

His representative in the film and advocate for the sick is Dr. Fletcher, an old lady who has given up husband and children and calls her patients her family. "The brain has learned to defend itself," she explains. And firmly believes that Kevin is not fooling her. However, she also thinks she has it under control.

Fatal mistake, because the “undesirables” have long since taken power. And they keep talking about the "beast", a 24th identity, the most unpredictable. The prisoners are intimidated. The camera shows many sequences from her eyes: lying on the bed, hidden in a locker - with a view only through slits of air.

Shyamalan does not rely on horror effects. It is the psychological factor that creates a constant threat. And sentences from one of Kevin's many personalities like: "You like to make fun of us, but we are more powerful than you think." Tension prevails for almost an hour and a half. Then the "beast" appears, it gets brutal.

Is that plausible? Dissociative identity disorder does exist as a diagnosis, says Jürgen Margraf from the German Society for Psychology. But this is very controversial. "Some diagnose it like crazy, others not at all," says the professor of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Dissociative states could help to relieve pain, for example.

However, 23 or even more identities are completely implausible. A series of self-diagnoses often follow media models such as “Eva with the three faces” and “Sybil” in the 1960s and 70s. “That was already big in the eighties, then it subsided again,” says Margraf. "That would be different with a real illness."

But even if «Split» exaggerates on this point, the film is worth seeing simply because of McAvoy's performance. In addition - typical for Shyamalan - there is one or the other phrase. Whereby viewers should pay attention to the flashbacks in Casey's childhood.