Saturday, November 14, 2009
What's Inisde The Box
I'm a fan of Faustian drama. My favorite is "A Picture of Dorian Gray." Goethe's "Faust" is a close second to Wilde's interpretation. The original Twilight Zone from the Rod Serling years had plenty of episodes where characters made deals with the devil and even if you could smell the rankness of the inevitable outcome the acting was divine-- you could make the exception.
"The Box," unfortunately, is far from sublime. Let me be frank, I've never really cared for Cameron Diaz. She's no Laura Linney. Frank Langella does keep it somewhat interesting and James Marsden actually make a great sideburn-wearing junior astronaut. But, as engrossing a premise as this oft-reproduced subject is you have to feel for the characters. I connected with none of them. A blight on my sensitivity? Not a chance. I'm an aesthete.I demand superior performance. I watched schmaltz.
The climatic scene where Cameron Diaz confronts Lucifer in a three-piece-suit is deplorable. I had to keep myself from cracking up not because it was predicable or because Diaz will never break from her "There's Something About Mary" pinnacle, but because the combination of the corny lines, the unnecessary sobbing, the bad delivery and the wooden cast of characters behind this film left me flat.
Sure she dies at the end so that her son will be able to see again. The kid will get a one-million-dollar interest-bearing trust fund. Marsden gets arrested and will never be a sideburn-wearing astronaut. Big deal.
It's not about plot twists, happy endings, or hard-boiled reality, it's about the substance of film. Ironically, with most of the junk parading as film these days, this is an above average flick.
Sometimes it's better not to know what's inside the box. Remember the end of "Barton Fink" with John Turturro strolling on the shore?