Edge

film review: Phone Booth ***

Phone Booth has been a troubled film for some time now. It was completed three years ago, back when people were obsessing over chads and “Survivor.”

The only thing that saved it from a quiet video release was the buzz around lead actor Colin Farrell. Reasons for its delay are plentiful: reshoots were necessary to replace the film’s villain from Ron Eldard (Black Hawk Down) to Kiefer Sutherland (“24”), which pushed the film smack dab into the eerily similar D.C. sniper shootings. Fox considered several tentative dates during those iffy weeks, but ultimately scheduled Phone Booth for a 2003 release.

The story pits a sleazy publicist (Colin Farrell) against a gravelly-voiced stranger with a rifle. Farrell’s character slyly uses the last phone booth in New York to call his would-be mistress every day, so that his cell phone bills won’t perplex his wife. One day, he instinctively picks up the ringing phone, only to find that the caller knows everything about him.

The film, which is only 80 minutes long, takes place almost entirely inside the booth. Farrell battles the caller, who strong-arms the conversation by forewarning that he has a rifle aimed at the booth from a nearby window. Tension thickens when the cops arrive, fingering the publicist for the man who recently shot an angry pimp outside of the same booth. A third conflict is tossed in when the girl he wants and the girl he has both show up at the scene, and the caller seems infatuated with incorporating this fact into his psychotic game.

Does this sound ridiculous enough yet? That’s because it is, but it’s also entertaining and inventive in the process. There’s not much that can be done with 80 minutes in and around a phone booth, but the film does it all. Flashbacks, lightning-quick editing, and “24”-style picture-in-picture are just some of the techniques used, and they all seem to work.

Director Joel Schumacher is one of the most inconsistent filmmakers of the past 20 years. In the ’90s, his films ran the gamut from spectacularly large failures (the last two Batman movies) to low budget successes like Tigerland and Falling Down. Throw in the dismal Bad Company and the well-received courtroom drama A Time to Kill, and it’s hard not to question Schumacher’s erraticism.

With this effort his direction is consumed by reckless abandon, the camera constantly spins around leaving no detail unturned. He gets some help and hip cred from Requiem for a Dream cinematographer Matthew Libatique, and from Farrell, whose facial expressions alone make the film engaging. In the supporting categories, Sutherland uses his spooky voice to add dimension to the bad guy, and Forest Whitaker (Panic Room) plays the head cop with ease.

In the end, Phone Booth is more like a music video stretched out into a semi-feature length film. For most movies, this would be a disaster, but it’s executed well by the parties involved. Don’t start thinking the Academy, but give it high marks for excitement and entertainment value, and put it on Schumacher’s “good” list.

Shawn Wines can be reached at shawnwines@aol.com.

April 11, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

The Miami Hurricanes, still waiting for a starting quarterback to be named, are in the top 25 again. ...

Happy first day of school for everyone out there, including the University of Miami students. We jus ...

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.