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Review: The Box

The Box
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 didnít have very high expectations. While I loved DONNIE DARKO, I didnít think highly of director Richard Kellyís 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. Itís a terrific little sleeper boasting one of Cameron Diazís 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 Langellaís badly scarred stranger- who resembles a less severe Two-Face. Diaz is better here than sheís been in years- and itís nice to see her in something other than a romantic comedy.

As for Langella, heís a revelation here, and itís nice to see him finally coming back as a character actor following his acclaimed turn in FROST/NIXON. I donít 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, whoís 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 itís 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 theyíre selling. This is NOT horror, itís deep, cerebral sci-fi- and unlike anything Iíve seen in a while (or, since DARKO anyways).

While it likely will not be a hit in theaters, like DARKO itíll pick up a following on DVD. I really enjoyed this. Probably the only element of the film I wasnít overly keen about was the somewhat overbearing, distracting score by Arcade Fire. Understand- theyíre 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 DARKOís Michael Andrews. However- thatís a minor criticism- and I strongly urge people to ignore the trailers, TV spots, and posters, and give the film a chance. Itís not for everyone, but it will definitely strike a chord with certain viewers. It did with me.

RATING: 8/10





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