A-Z Daily Throwback Review: Phone Booth (2002)

Phone Booth is the exact kind of movie you would expect to see made with a large budget and plenty of action. It’s the kind of script that often is taken in by a large studio and changed to be a piece of money making eye candy, completely void of any depth. While watching Phone Booth, one can see how that could have happened, but in this case it did not.

Phone Booth follows Stu Shepard, a fast talking press agent who uses everyone in his life to help himself in any way possible. For the first fifteen minutes we watch as he hustles his way through the streets to a pay phone. He is going to this phone booth, the last in Manhattan, to make his daily call to a young woman, Pam, whom he is obviously interested in having an affair with. Stu even goes so far as to remove his wedding ring before making the call, almost as if he needed to lie to himself in order to follow through with this level of deceit. Unfortunately, immediately following this phone call, the phone rings again. Perhaps out of curiosity, or in case it is Pam calling back, Stu picks up the phone. On the other end of the line is a man that threatens Stu, if he leaves the phone booth or hangs up, he will be shot. As proof that he is not joking, the caller assassinates a toy robot that is outside the booth. What then follows is a series of incidents and mind games, all of which revolve around Stu and this phone booth.

Stu Shepard is played by a remarkable new talent, Colin Farrell. Farrell got his big break in another low budget Joel Schumacher film, Tigerland. Since making that little seen gem, Farrell has proceeded to make a handful of films that have put him in the public’s eye, but haven’t quite used his talent properly. If ever there was a doubt to the fact that Farrell is a fabulous actor, Phone Booth should change that. Spending nearly the entire film in a phone booth talking to someone he cannot see, Farrell carries this film into being something much more than just a thriller.

Shot mostly on set in about 10 days, Phone Booth should be a simple film, focusing on the situation and characters. Unfortunately though, Schumacher doesn’t seem to have enough faith in the material, because he turns Phone Booth into a melting pot of camera tricks and fast cuts. This gives Phone Booth a music video feeling; almost as if the filmmakers had no faith in the audience having any attention span (many could argue that this is true of today’s typical moviegoer).

Overall, Phone Booth is an intelligent thriller, but not the kind of film that you would expect to see playing in a large theatre. It has a low budget feeling about it that many may not like, but is definitely worth seeing if only to admire the work of Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland, who supports the story a great deal with his raspy voice.



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