Phone Booth * * * 1/2

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Director: Joel Schumacher.
Screenplay: Larry Cohen.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes, Radha Mitchell, Josh Pais.

I’m not a massive fan of Joel Schumacher. He’s a very frustrating director, who only occasionally delivers the goods. His limited talents are better served when working with a low budget and you don’t get much lower than practically a whole film set inside a phone box. It works though, thanks to a brilliant performance from Colin Farrell.

Stu Shepard (Farrell) is an arrogant, swindling, talent agent who talks the talk and walks the walk. At least, that’s what he thinks. Unbeknownst to him, is that somebody, somewhere (voiced by Keifer Sutherland) has been following his movements each day and decides to make him pay for his lies and deceit by holding him hostage in a telephone booth and systematically revealing to him, everything he knows and intends to expose.

Filmed in real time and never straying from the confines of the claustrophic phone box (with the exception of a few split-screen moments), Schumacher manages to crank up the tension with ease. It’s a simple idea but highly effective, which is in part to an absolutely fantastic Colin Farrell, channeling a tense DeNiro-like performance, full of amorality and disregard to eventual sensitivity and redemption. It’s a hard task for Farrell, considering he’s never off screen but he nails it and delivers one of his finest screen moments. There is also fine support in Forest Whitaker as the detective on the scene and Keifer Sutherland’s creepy monotone voice is a character in itself.

This film has it’s critics but there’s no denying the grip it has on you and the fine acting delivered from a very basic premise.

Mark Walker

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