Phone Booth

5 out of 10


Hitchcock Thriller without Hitchcock

Ever waited for hours outside a phone box for some other dude to finish calling his uncle in Argentina or dictating the Koran word by word to a friend in Kuwait? This movie gives a whole new dimension to one of those frustrating dramas of real life. Colin Farrell plays a shallow New York publicist who instinctively answers a ringing phone at a Manhattan phone booth. On the other end of the line is a psychopath who tells him that if he puts the phone down, he will shoot him with a high powered sniper rifle. (So? Seems normal and in character for Bell Canada! - Editor) Suddenly, the rest of the world stops as he must somehow fend off the rest of the world from disturbing him to stay doggedly on line, no matter what, and so it all escalates, with annoying Pizza delivery people, angry hookers, people being shot, Police SWAT squads - all the least of his troubles compared with the nutcase on the other end of the line with the rifle who begins to manipulate him and forces him to face the depth of depravity and worthlessness of his life, now hanging by the proverbial horsehair.

In many ways, "Phone Booth" is very much in the style of a 1950`s Alfred Hitchcock thriller, where normality can become so very threatening with only the removal of a thin veneer of civilization, in an era when the good guys were not all cops, super spies or Supermen and the bad guys weren’t all Arab terrorists, rich Neo-Nazis or themed Super-criminals. Yet the sad truth remains that Hitchcock has long since gone to the great studio set in the sky, and whilst it has a certain appeal and grip to it, it lacks that certain sparkle. In many ways, it resembles the sort of "B" movies that usually fail to gain general release, but gain acclamation on the independent circuit, with a supporting cast of so-so players, poor direction and a largely one-dimensional plot line that no-one seemed to know how to develop. Maybe the sort of technical gross-out gore that so switched people off in "Three Kings" might have been actually appropriate, but instead all we see are theatrical deaths and drab camera angles that would again suit a more limited "artsy" release of the picture.

Although the end is passable with Farrell actually being shot, the film depends essentially on teasing the audience from the first minute with the niggling question, "What would you have done?"

Artsy Thriller out of its depth

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett