MRR Review: "6 Souls"

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Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers star in this horror/mystery thriller directed by Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein. A female forensic psychiatrist (played by Moore) discovers that all of one of her patient's multiple personalities are murder victims. She must hurry to find out what's happening before she herself becomes a target.
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MRR Review: "6 Souls"

-- Rating: R (violent content, disturbing images and terror)
Length: 112 min
Release date: Mar. 27, 2010
Directed by: Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein
Genre: Horror, Mystery, and Thriller

In the movie "6 Souls," Julianne Moore plays Dr. Cara Harding, a shrewd forensic psychiatrist in for a world of surprise when she makes a shocking discovery about one of her troubled patients. The movie opens with Cara grieving the death of her beloved husband. Her husband was brutally murdered in a senseless act of violence, which left Cara questioning God, herself, morality, and everything but her steadfast understanding of the human mind.

One patient's unusual and, in Cara's mind, impossible mental affliction will test even her unwavering belief in science. Cara's relationship with her father, another well-known psychiatrist played by Jeffrey DeMunn, is in constant turmoil due to the extreme differences in their professional philosophies. Cara is a modern psychologist who believes that multiple personality disorder, removed from the professional psychological diagnostic manual years ago, is not a legitimate psychological disorder. Her father is a staunch advocate of the disorder's existence, and the two frequently butt heads over the issue.

Hoping to inspire Cara to venture into more open-minded territory about things that she can't explain, the senior Dr. Harding takes her to visit a puzzling patient of his. Adam, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers of "The Tudors" and "Velvet Goldmine" fame, is a young man struggling with the very affliction that Cara claims does not exist. Not only does Adam's personality change when he turns into one of his alternate identities, but he begins to take on their physical attributes as well. Cara is suddenly faced with solid evidence of the impossible, and her faith in both science and God will now be tested more than ever before. As an added twist, Cara discovers evidence that Adam's personalities are the ghosts of people who were brutally murdered.

"6 Souls" is an innovative movie simply on the grounds that it tackles a much debated concept in psychology that has been poorly portrayed by many Hollywood movies in the past. "6 Souls" bravely attempts to succeed where other movies have failed, and it does. Jonathan Rhys Meyers does an excellent job at portraying the chaotic and torturous existence of a young man forced to share his life and body with other people. His performances are chilling and will remind fans of the horror genre of classics such as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Sybil."

Julianne Moore also delivers a riveting performance as the analytical and world-weary Dr. Cara Harding. Cara's loss of faith and struggle to hold onto science, the only thing she has left to believe in, is relatable to anyone who has experienced sudden loss. The senseless death of her husband weighs heavily on her throughout the film and informs the character's perceptions and reactions to the events that follow. Her relationship with her father is another crucial element that makes the film stand out from others in the thriller genre. Audiences sympathize with Cara as she fights to help Adam and protect her family from becoming victims, all while dealing with the painful memories and feelings that Adam's case brings up from her husband's murder.

The entire film has an eerie, ominous atmosphere that only picks up as the story progresses. What begins as a cold, scientific world is eventually turned on its head. By the end of the film, viewers likely won't know which way is up, and that's exactly what director Christian Alvart seems to have intended. The supernatural is definitely at play in the world of "6 Souls," but it's up to the viewer to discover just how extensively.

One of the most disturbing and unique elements of the movie is the stark contrast between characters. Adam's rough personality gives way to his various alter egos, each of whom brings out a side of his personality that is dormant in his normal life. Cara's dad represents the open-minded intellectual who lives more in the realm of treatment and anecdotes than academia, while Cara herself is the hardened professional who refuses to give up on logic until that alone is the most reasonable choice she has.

Fans of psychological thrillers will enjoy this fast-paced human genre with strong supernatural overtones. Neither science nor faith is ever dismissed in this thoughtful and thought-provoking film. True believers and skeptics alike get a fair shake in Alvart's story. The entire film is so well thought out with storytelling based on such a unique concept that it is only a matter of time before "6 Souls" gets inducted into the psychological thriller hall of fame with the likes of "Sybil" and "Memento."

Rating: 3 out of 5