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Review: The Box

The Box
11.09.2009
8 10

PLOT: A mysterious, badly scarred stranger (Frank Langella) presents a struggling young couple (Cameron Diaz & James Marsden) with a wooden box containing a button. If they press the button, they will receive $1 Million dollars tax free- but someone, somewhere will die. The couple eventually succumbs to temptation, setting in motion a bizarre series of events wit dire consequences not only for the couple, but for humanity itself.

REVIEW: Walking into THE BOX on Saturday night, I didn’t have very high expectations. While I loved DONNIE DARKO, I didn’t think highly of director Richard Kelly’s follow up film, SOUTHLAND TALES, and considering the bad buzz on this one, I feared he might be something of a one hit wonder.

Luckily, I was completely wrong, as THE BOX, despite the lackluster trailers, is actually a very intriguing, cerebral science fiction film- reminiscent of an old TWILIGHT ZONE or OUTER LIMITS episode, by way of Stanley Kubrick. It’s a terrific little sleeper boasting one of Cameron Diaz’s best performances ever. Her character initially comes off as two dimensional, but later reveals herself to be much deeper, as she hides a severe disfigurement that gives her a certain kinship with Langella’s badly scarred stranger- who resembles a less severe Two-Face. Diaz is better here than she’s been in years- and it’s nice to see her in something other than a romantic comedy.

As for Langella, he’s a revelation here, and it’s nice to see him finally coming back as a character actor following his acclaimed turn in FROST/NIXON. I don’t want to reveal too much about him in the film, but suffice to say, this is a profound role for the actor. I also really liked James Marsden, who’s fantastic in this, and displays some serious leading man chops.

Now, being a Richard Kelly film, this is not for everyone. Like DARKO, the film is something of a puzzle that begs to be seen more than once- although it’s a lot more accessible than SOUTHLAND TALES. I think the studio has torpedoed the film by giving it a really uninspired marketing campaign, as the film I saw bears no resemblance to the PG-13 horror flick they’re selling. This is NOT horror, it’s deep, cerebral sci-fi- and unlike anything I’ve seen in a while (or, since DARKO anyways).

While it likely will not be a hit in theaters, like DARKO it’ll pick up a following on DVD. I really enjoyed this. Probably the only element of the film I wasn’t overly keen about was the somewhat overbearing, distracting score by Arcade Fire. Understand- they’re one of my favorite bands, but great film composers they are not. The music in itself is good- but its WAYYYY too much, and the film would have benefited from a more minimalist score by DARKO’s Michael Andrews. However- that’s a minor criticism- and I strongly urge people to ignore the trailers, TV spots, and posters, and give the film a chance. It’s not for everyone, but it will definitely strike a chord with certain viewers. It did with me.

RATING: 8/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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