a critiQal film review Phone Booth (2003)

Plot: Stu (Farrell) is a publicist. He spends every day schmoozing, trying to make people famous. He's got a lovely wife (Mitchell), and a girlfriend (Holmes). His life is going great...until today, when he answered that ringing phone. Now he's got someone trying to make him famous...and dead.

615 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 4s)
  • ...able to keep the viewer's attention without changing scenery.

Wow…a few weeks back, two movies came out on DVD I’d been wanting to see, but never got a chance to when they were in the theaters: Basic and Phone Booth.

Phone Booth starred Colin Farrell, of Minority Report (2002), DareDevil (2003). and (more recently) The Recruit (2003). He impressed me in those films, so this seemed like a movie to check out.

Also, being a fan of Stephen King’s novel Gerald’s Game (which takes place within the confines of a bedroom), I wanted to see if a movie could take place entirely in a phone booth and still be entertaining. So, the first chance I got, I went to the local Blockbuster® and rented Phone Booth.

Colin Farrell continues to impress as an actor. He definitely seems to grow in each film he does, and keeps getting better and better. He seemed more impressive in The Recruit (2003) (and I’m not sure if that movie or this one came out first), but that may have been the influence of Al Pacino in that film as well.

He definitely has a chance to go through a wide range of emotions in Phone Booth, and portrays them all very convincingly. There are only a few actors that would be able to pull off this kind of movie, and he’s the only up and coming actor that could. He does fumble a little bit, but that’s just his inexperience showing through.

Kiefer Sutherland does a decent job in this film also, and it seems his career (and his acting) have started to pick up again after the very impressive Dark City (1998).

Katie Holmes, the girlfriend of this film, doesn’t need to do much acting. She basically needs to just stand around looking pretty, and she’s got that down pat.

Forest Whitaker, as the Captain of the police force that arrives on the scene, does a decent job, but definitely doesn’t come close to his great performance in Panic Room (2002).

The plot of Phone Booth was intriguing. Shoot a film with the main character entirely in a phone booth, yet manage to keep the audience interested? I bet this one was a hard sell to the studios! It works though, amazingly enough.

The dialogue and the creepy this-could-happen-to-you circumstances go a very long way in keeping the movie interesting, and it keeps the viewer wanting to see more, yet afraid that they already know how it’s going to turn out.

The ending is a bit unsatisfying, but somewhat typical of Hollywood lately, and would have worked better if all the characters were no-names. It’s a typical example of a great idea screwed up by recognizable characters.

The special effects were simplistic, yet effective. The use of the sniper scope view scene was nice, and really helped the viewer get a bird’s eye view of the action. It makes you feel much more a part of the film, but more from the bad guy’s standpoint, rather than the hero you are supposed to be associating with. Oh well. Keeps the movie interesting though.

All in all, Phone Booth was a good choice for Colin Farrell. It really helps him sink his teeth into the less flashy side of Hollywood, and he really gets to showcase his entire emotional repertoire. It’s a good learning experience for him, and a definite feather in his cap since he was able to pull it off.

As for me, it’s not one of my favorite films, but I do have to applaud it for being able to keep my attention throughout the film…all from one little Phone Booth.

One thing’s for sure: I won’t be picking up any ringing pay phones in the near future!

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