Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cheaply Made Film That Knocks The Spots Off Most Big Money Blockbusters, 17 July 2007
This review is from: Phone Booth [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Forget your Lord of the Rings or Star Wars and Harry Potter this feature has got to be the best film for years. It proves that movies don't need a multi-million dollar budget to be a class product. This film was shot in just ten days and in a way it shows but that is the appeal of a real-time drama, there is almost a documentary 'shoot-it-as-it-happens' feel that gives the impression of continuation. Too many retakes can end up spoiling the flow of a scene and as the film is technically one long scene with cutaway pictures to other participants on the phone it makes sense to record it like this. I suspect that the film was shot in narrative order, allowing the actors to build upon the emotions that arise from the mounting stress of the situation rather than having to remember how they were feeling if it was shot out of order. In writing terms this is called the Fleming Sweep, so named after the James Bond creator, his theory was that he would write a Bond novel from beginning to end without looking back over what he had done and when he had finished only then would he revise and polish his story, the idea being that it creates a better flow than the usual stop-start approach and for me this film is very similar.

The acting is world class, that statement can be used too often but here it is true. Colin Farrell is wonderful and it needed a top-notch performance from Kiefer Sutherland as the Caller to match and even exceed Farrell. Sutherland steals the show and this was amazing considering that he only used his voice until the very end and actually upstaged Farrell, who himself was awesome. The director took the correct path in chosing Sutherland and resisted the obvious temptation to go for a darker voice ala Tom Baker, Patrick Stewart and James Earl Jones, I think a Vincent Price type of voice would have been a mistake as the true terror of the performance comes from the fact that it is an every day normal type of voice rather than the forced horror of a scarier vocal interpretation.

The film ends at exactly the right time on 77 minutes, a very short film, but one of the things that annoy me about most films is their need for padding, I have always subscribed to the theory that when a film naturally comes to an end then end it, if it can be told in 77 minutes then do so, I think that had Phone Booth been fleshed out by just five minutes it would not be the masterpiece that it is today.

There is however one little gripe that I have and that is that I would have prefered not to have seen the Caller at the end of the film and left it to the imagination, but when you cast an actor of Kiefer Sutherland's calibre I suppose that you do want him in there somewhere, this is just a minor irritation on my part that in no way spoils this fantastic psychological, manipulation thriller. And the making of... documentary is great too.

If so-called 'cheap' films are always as good as this then I will take them over the big money Hollywood blockbusters any day. This is proper film making with actors rather than computers and such like. Go on give it a try.
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3.9 out of 5 stars (85 customer reviews)
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Location: Sheffield, England

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