A superbly taut and tight little thriller, “Phone Booth” proves the first real find of a film for 2003 and certainly one of the best films Director Joel Schumacher has ever done.
There’s no grand themes – its a simple, fast and close to the bone almost theatrical piece which relies entirely on a strong script by genre-meister Larry Cohen and Schumacher’s skill with a low budget to keep the crowd entertained.
Its a high concept project which is executed with precision and for the most part works perfectly, one of those films which is so simple and yet so compelling that even those who’ve little desire to make film will be slapping their heads thinking “now why didn’t I come up with this?”.
Colin Farrell is in every scene with the entire film resting on his shoulders and certainly pushes his talent far more than any other American production he’s been in so far. Even with this short length for a feature its still a daunting prospect to watch a film where easily the majority of it is just a sweaty Colin with a handset talking to someone off-camera – yet he’s just totally watchable, even if his character is a dick you do come to sympathise with him.
Sutherland also shines with what is essentially a voice talent role – he drips with menace, a nice dark sense of humour and intelligence. Whitaker is more enjoyable than he has been in a role in ages, whilst Mitchell and Holmes do decent work with essentially cameo pieces.
At just under 80 minutes long this successfully keeps the steam rolling for practically all its run time. Nifty 24-esque real time editing/camera tricks and an adrenalin-fused score movie things along briskly. Sadly its sole letdown is towards the end with a slightly flimsy monologue emotional piece before the final fast paced rush which ends with a nice but predictable twist.
Said emotional piece isn’t as convincing as it should be and the sole cracks in an otherwise dynamic performance come through on it. Its shallowness may keep things light but the depths and motivations of a certain character are left mostly unexplained and short change this from becoming a modern classic. Still its an excellent piece of cinema – interesting, contemporary, thought-provoking and above all entertaining in a smart way.