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The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (1999) is a film that tells the fictional story of a troubled, isolated boy and the child psychologist who tries to help him. It was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and helped propel him to stardom.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

Bruce Willis stars as a loving but childless husband named Malcolm Crowe, a devoted and award-winning child psychologist. Crowe is shot early on in the film by former patient Vincent Gray (Donnie Wahlberg), who then commits suicide. Crowe, filled with guilt and puzzled as to how he might have "failed" Vincent, pores over his old notes and audio tapes of sessions conducted when Vincent was a boy.

While Crowe is researching this old case, he and his wife (Olivia Williams) appear to grow increasingly distant from each other. He also picks up a new patient, Cole Sear (played by Haley Joel Osment), a boy whose case gradually begins to provide Dr. Crowe with insight on Vincent's problem.

Cole initially tells Crowe, "You're nice, but you can't help me." As the movie progresses, we see various scenes of people appearing in Cole's house after bedtime:

A woman with cuts on her wrists screams, "No, dinner is not ready!" and "You can't hurt me any more!".
A boy who invites Cole to see his father's gun turns away, whereupon we see that the back of his head has been shot off.

Who are these people? Cole eventually reveals his secret to Dr. Crowe: "I see dead people -- all the time." Crowe is incredulous and thinks Cole's mental condition is even more severe than he has earlier thought. However, he eventually comes to believe that the ghosts are real when he realises that he has tape recordings of Vincent hearing their cries in his old files. With Crowe's assistance and support, Cole learns how the dead people have come to him for help; he finishes their last tasks on earth, allowing them to finally move on. Such an example was Cole showing the secretly recorded tape of the mother of a child, possibly suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, poisoning her daughter's food, at the child's funeral.

At the end of the film it becomes clear that Crowe is himself a dead person, and has been since the shooting that began the story. But as Cole told him, "They don't know they're dead." Thus Crowe becomes the last person to be saved by Cole's aid, atoning for the sin of failing Vincent by helping Cole.

The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Haley Joel Osment), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Toni Collette, who played Cole's mother) and Best Director (M. Night Shyamalan, who also wrote the story.)

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