To those who might be wondering: Yes, this is an 81 minute film about a man inside a Phone Booth. Surprisingly, this is an outstanding 81 minute film about a man inside a Phone Booth. Sadly, the DVD doesn’t add very much, but the film itself is strong enough on it’s own to warrant a purchase.
Young actor Colin Farrell stars as Stu Shepard, a publicist inside the overly crowded New York City. He is the perfect example of a person your supposed to hate. He is constantly throwing empty promises out to magazines, ripping off a young kid looking to get a break into the business with Farrell, cheating on his wife, etc. Finally, everything catches up with him. As he steps into the phone booth he uses to call the other woman (Toledo native Katie Holmes) in his life every day, a sniper (Keifer Sutherland in one of the most unique movie roles of all time) pins him down. The tables take an even larger turn for the worse when the sniper picks off a civilian drawing the police (headed by Forest Whitaker) and SWAT team to the area.
The pacing of this brief experiment in psychological terror is relentless. Colin’s character is set up in a matter of minutes and from here on out it’s him and the lonely confines of a phone booth with a man who continuously breaks him down. He toys with him, sends him warning shots, and literally causes him to break down on national TV. There are no major twists in the story and the ending is on the disappointing side, but the tension Joel Schumacher creates is breathtaking. At a brisk 81 minutes (including the credits), there’s no time for boredom to set in and the unique camera shots always keep things interesting. People who go in expecting action will be highly disappointed, but even these people will be drawn into this gripping thriller.
The DVD comes with both a widescreen and full-screen version (on opposite sides of the disc). The full screen version is hardly watch able, cutting off the picture-in-picture segments, one of the more unique aspects of the movie, directly in half. The picture, regardless of which format you choose however, is gorgeous. Most of the film retains a dark feel, from Colin’s suit to the city towering above him. Colors are faded for effect and it all works thanks to the quality of the print. There are very few instances where the compression of the video becomes a problem and even these are negligible.
Much like the video, the sound is equally impressive. Both the English and French tracks support 5.1. For a movie that takes place mostly inside a phone booth and hardly any soundtrack to speak of, it’s something to listen to. The opening minutes of the film feature countless people talking on cell-phones and their conversations, inaudible as they are, surround the viewer. You’ll hear ambient noises throughout if your paying attention, but this is a movie where most of the sound is dialog. Your subwoofer won’t get a workout, but most of the positional audio, when used, is great.
Sadly, the rest of the disc is mediocre. The only features include a commentary by Schumacher and the theatrical trailer. Schumacher talks quite a bit about the conditions during the shoot and stays active throughout, but it’s no replacement for a detailed documentary DVD fans are used to. This is a DVD that needs to reissued in a nice 2-disc set.
By the time your done with this movie, your sure to check this one out again regardless of it’s glaring lack of features. Whether it be to introduce someone else to it or simply catch Farrellís outstanding performance, this is disc that NEEDS to be on your shelf. This is an underrated gem that was sadly overlooked.
Originally posted on Breaking Windows.