Friday, August 27, 2010

The Box: Movie Review

Intelligent science fiction thriller.

"The Box" is not what you're expecting, and that will hold true no matter what you are expecting. I had assumed it was going to be a moral and philosophical exploration of a couple's choice between money or an unknown death. There are moral and philosophical ideas presented, but in such a way that you don't yet understand. 2009

Directed by: Richard Kelly

Screenplay by: Richard Kelly

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella and James Marsden

Set in Virginia in 1976, this is meant to be personal. An all-American family with expected financial woes, jobs that keep them busy and parenting dilemmas. These are people we can get behind. And yes it helps that mom Norma is played by Cameron Diaz and dad Arthur is played by James Marsden. Their lives are up-rooted, and this is not partially up-rooted, but more bizarrely and insanely changed by forces not possibly predicted type of up-rooted. A strange man (Frank Langella) offers them a simple choice: push the button inside the box and receive a million dollars, but in return someone, somewhere will die.

This is the premise of Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button”. A moral dilemma, with questions of what would you do? In a move which might very well be the cause of the box office disaster and lack of appreciation, writer and director Richard Kelly frames that philosophical approach as a sci-fi thriller. A gut-wrenching thriller with paranoia and supernatural experiences around every turn in the action. And that is made very personal. We feel for Norma and Arthur and we feel what Norma and Arthur are feeling. They don’t know what is going on and neither do we. And like the moral question, what would you do? All I know is that I wanted to get to the resolution.

On the surface, it's a thriller, science fiction and creepy in nature. But the word "surface" should not be used because there is nothing superficial about this film. It is not simple or straight-forward. It is a heart-wrenching, suspenseful thriller, told with creepy and supernatural, other-worldly experiences and illustrations. But it's also not an action film, it's closer to a philosophical discussion than action.

To watch "The Box" you must be open to watching a movie that can't be explained, won't make any sense in most interpretations of it, and is slow-moving but thrilling and suspenseful at the same time. Intelligent, science fiction thriller would be the closest categorization. Fans of that genre should definitely watch; also recommended for fans of "Solaris" (2002).
Best of 2010


Moon (2009) - Alone in space with so much to think about.

Solaris (2002) - Thoughtful romance and mystery working its way into science fiction.