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Wednesday December 11th 2019

Split | 2016

A tour-de-force performance from James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb – also Dennis, Patricia, Barry, Hedwig and others – a man with multiple personalities, being helped by well-meaning but a tad too-trusting psychiatrist Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley).

It’s an M Night Shyamalan film so, even though I’ll assume you watched it before checking the locations, I’ll try to tiptoe round the spoilers.

It’s not giving anything away to reveal that it’s filmed around – surprise! – the director’s home turf of Philadelphia, much of it at the Sun Center Studios on North Commerce Drive in Aston, southwest of Philadelphia. Shyamalan was one of the first directors to use the studio after it opened in 2011, for his sci-fi movie After Earth, with Jaden Smith.

The restaurant in the opening scene is Cantina Laredo, 690 West Dekalb Pike, Suite 2085, in the King of Prussia Mall, 160 North Gulph Road, King of Prussia, almost 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

It’s claimed to be the largest Mall in the USA. The area's curious name is derived from a local 18th Century tavern, called the King of Prussia Inn.

The three girls are abducted from the parking lot outside.

There’s another restaurant soon, as one of the girls, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) begins a series of sinister flashbacks to her childhood.

When she’s seen being taken hunting with her father and uncle (in reality not much farther than Fairmount Park in Philadelphia), the three stop off at Fisherman Restaurant, 440 Schuylkill Road, Phoenixville, northwest of King of Prussia. Sadly, the place closed down in early 2019.

Shyamalan shows off the usual Philly sights as Dr Fletcher discusses Kevin’s extraordinary case with a colleague while walking through Rittenhouse Square (familiar from John Landis’s 1983 Trading Places) and along Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, the riverside pathway which runs alongside the east bank of the Schuylkill River.

She studies the mysterious figures of Paul Cezanne’s masterpiece, Les Grandes Baigneuses (The Bathers), in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It’s a magnificent collection but now probably more famous (OK, thanks to people like me) as the place with the flight of steps on which Rocky trained.

Dennis, one of Kevin’s more worrying personae, buys flowers in the Concourse of 30th Street Station, 3001 Market Street, another location seen before on screen in films such as Peter Weir’s Witness and Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Two locations used for the end of the film are Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue, across the Schuylkill River northwest of Downtown Philadelphia.

And finally, that epilogue in the old-school diner, which is Silk City Diner Bar & Lounge, 435 Spring Garden Street, in the heart of the city.