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In The Sixth Sense writerdirector M Night Shyamalan in his third feature film faces a difficult problem how do you tell an utterly familiar perhaps even clichd story about a boy who is haunted by the dead people around him Shyamalans answer is to give the audience what they expect and then to turn the tables on them using their own familiarity with the conventions of the horror genre to lead them into a film that is far less horrific than they were led to believe and far more intelligent inventive and emotionally effective than they might imagine The Sixth Sense opens with Malcolm Crowe a prominent Philadelphia child psychiatrist played with refreshing reserve by Bruce Willis who has received a commendation from the city and is celebrating with his wife Anna Olivia Williams The award signals the culmination of a professional career that has overshadowed everything else including his marriage as Anna is quick to point out Malcolm promises that this will change but before the couple can enjoy this reassessment of priorities he is shot by an intruder a former patient named Vincent Gray Donnie Wahlberg now grown and still afflicted by the demons of his youth The scene fades out and changes to a Philadelphia neighborhood in autumn where we see Malcolm waiting on a bench to meet his next patient Cole Sear Cole a brilliant Haley Joel Osment is being raised by his divorced mother Lynn Toni Collette and suffers from unseen terrors similar to those that haunted Vincent Besides the painful memories he is trying to overcome by treating Cole Malcolm is also confronted by his growing alienation from Anna who has withdrawn from him apparently because of his obsession to correct his past failure As Malcolm tries to discover what is haunting Cole and to repair his relationship with his wife he slowly begins to realize that Coles case is much worse than at first suspected and that the
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