Matt's The Box Review
Don’t be fooled by the previews. The Box, is not as cut and dry as advertised. Richard Kelley is shaping into one of the most intriguing directors of the past 10 years. His first film, Donnie Darko, is a wonderful enigma of a movie that has gained a massive cult following since its release to DVD. People still argue and debate about the meaning behind that film. With The Box, Kelly has done it again, making easily one of the most cerebral and interesting films I have seen in years.
- Kelly’s dreamlike visual style, which he employed in Donnie Darko to great effect, is used again in this film. The result is that the pacing of the film is very slow, and very smooth. The smooth pacing is combined with a wonderful air of foreboding that persists throughout the film. I admired this quality in the film, but it could be discouraging to the modern 21st century viewer used to movies that develop at a faster pace. Patience, in this particular case, is most definitely a virtue.
- Another feeling that is very much present in this film is paranoia. I couldn’t call this movie upsetting, but it is most certainly unsettling.
- How believable the set-up is will, I think, depend on the viewer. The movie challenges each of us to think about what we would do given the choice. “If you press the button two things will happen. First, someone, somewhere, whom you don’t know, will die. Second, you will receive a payment of 1 million dollars. Tax free.” The living and financial situation of the characters is presented to the viewers as the characters Norma and Arthur Lewis are presented with the dilemma.
- Cameron Diaz is an actress that has not done a whole lot of serious roles in her career. I was floored by how effective she was in this film. She turns in a powerful performance as Norma Lewis.
- James Marsden is an actor that will be familiar to fans of comic-book movies – he played Cyclops in the X-men film and he played Richard White in Superman Returns. He tackles his role as Arthur Lewis brilliantly in this film.
- Frank Langella has had a long and varied career, and he’s played the villain more than once. Despite what the previews might indicate, I don’t consider him a villain in this film. His performance as Arlington Stewart is both riveting and chilling at the same time. But I believe to label him a villain would be to simplify a film that is much more profound than that.
Music, Cinematography, and Special Effects
- Kelly relies on a lot more orchestral soundtrack for The Box. Donnie Darko was loaded with 80s music that were as much a part of the plot as the dialogue, but The Box uses its soundtrack to maintain atmosphere. I’m not sure how well the music would stand on its own, but for purposes of the movie, it was effectively done.
- The cinematography of this film is interesting. Kelly does a lot with lighting, and there is endless cloud-cover for scenes that take place during the day. No sunlight in this movie at all – take from that, what you will.
- The special effects in this film are good. I got the impression watching the film that Kelly wanted the effects shots in the film to look real, but not too real. It adds to the dreamlike quality of the film.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line of this film is hard to nail down. As of this review I’ve only seen the film once, and have barely scratched the surface. There’s a lot to analyze in this film, more than there is in most films. Here’s the bottom line though, if you enjoyed Donnie Darko, then this film is worth your time. See it! 7/10