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Sunday, April 13, 2003


Written by Larry Cohen
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker
Reviewed by Mil Peliculas

What do you get when you add the director of the worst Batman movies with the creator of the It’s Alive baby movies? Why, you get Phone Booth. Strange combination indeed, but in this case, it seems to work okay. I say, “okay.” These are the least interesting reviews to write, because I can’t really get passionate about films like this.

What’s it all about? Colin Farrell plays a sleazy New York publicist who talks out of both sides of his mouth as well as other orifices. A totally self-absorbed scumbag who’ll screw anybody over to make a deal. He spends the same hour each day making calls from a phone booth on 53rd between 8th and Broadway, if memory serves me (I’ll be visiting that corner in a few weeks).

Life stops for about an hour when he gets a phone call from a sniper who threatens to kill him if he hangs up the phone. From there, we begin to get into a morality tale. The sniper/caller, played by an over-enunciating Kiefer Sutherland, has been following Farrell for a while and decided that he needs to die, but first he needs to confess to his wife and everyone else in the world that he is a piece of crap.

The pacing is quick, the story fairly engaging, Farrell is good, but his New Yorker accent comes and goes like a thief in the night, fading into some bizarre Irish hybrid on occasion. Another stylistic thing I found a bit jarring is the fact that Kiefer’s voice does not come out of the phone, like you’d normally hear during a phone call scene, it comes out of the rest of the speakers, like he’s some omnipresent Godlike force. I grant that this is intentional, but I question Schumacher’s artistic sense. It just seems strange. And as I mentioned before, Kiefer speaks like a radio announcer, never a hesitation, a stutter, a misplaced word, and it seems, as though most of his dialog was recorded on some sound stage someplace else and laid in afterward (which it no doubt was), so that feeling of tense interaction between the two is not there, which normally would provide the fuel for a film like this (see Glengarry Glen Ross for a good example of tense interaction).

After the sniper shoots a bystander to prove that he means business, the police arrive, and witnesses tell the cops that Farrell was the shooter. Forest Whitaker plays the cop in charge of the scene. Farrell is not allowed to tell anyone what is happening or who he’s talking to. So it’s up to Whitaker to try to figure out what’s going on.

The film is short, so it won’t take up too much time, if you’re a fan of Farrell, you might enjoy it, but it never really busts out. There is one quotable line however, from a prostitute who wants to use the phone, Farrell shuts the door as she’s banging on it and she cackles, “You done messed up my dick hand!”