The Box * * * 1/2

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Director: Richard Kelly.
Screenplay: Richard Kelly.
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella, James Marsden, James Rebhorn, Holmes Osborne.

Based on the short story “Button, Button” by “I am Legend” writer Richard Matheson, this is a strange little film thats hard to pigeonhole due to some very strange and surreal happenings. Director Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko”), refuses to stick to any particular formula and as a result leaves you a little unsure about what you’ve just seen.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) & Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a happily married couple who are having some financial difficulties. Out of the blue, they are contacted by a mysterious stranger named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella). Mr. Steward delivers a box to their house and makes them a bleak, but very tempting offer. They are given a choice to push the button on the box and receive $1 million, however, by doing so, somebody somewhere will die.

This film received quite a lot of criticism and wasn’t very successful upon it’s release, which is a shame really, as it does have several positive things going for it. First of all, it poses the type of moral question that everybody will find it hard to ignore and follows through with the consequences of making such a decision. Richard Kelly’s direction is refreshingly different also. He throws in all sorts of unconventional and unexpected ‘Lynchian’ touches like the main character missing part of her foot and another missing part of his face. Strange bell ringing Santa’s standing in the middle of the road, nose bleeding zombies and all this with the air of a NASA conspiracy hanging over it. All very strange indeed, with little to no explanation for some of it. The film also looks wonderful, brilliantly capturing the 1970’s era and style and the three lead performances are excellent. However, with all this unexplained strangeness you start to wonder whether Kelly is taking it all a bit too far and quite frankly, not really caring if we understand the whole thing. Which is a big ask, considering the film is just short of two hours and demands a level of commitment.

A very bizarre, (slight) misfire but interesting nonetheless and it definitely has a lasting effect due to some well structured creepiness.

Mark Walker

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2 Responses to “The Box * * * 1/2”

  1. This is a tough one to tackle – good job. I too think Kelly went a little too “weird” here. I like weird (and I am probably the only person who liked Southland Tales) but he might think about cutting it back a little if he wants to gain a following. Great review!

    Like

    • Thanks bro. This had a lot going for it, particularly the creepy atmosphere but not entirely successful. I haven’t seen Southland Tales but I will get around to it someday. I’m also a fan of weird but Kelly does go too far sometimes.

      Like

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