Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Box (2009)

The movie starts with Cameron Diaz doing something I find very hard to relate to: she gets up at 5:45am to answer the doorbell to an unknown caller.

But then in Hollywood everyone always answers the phone, doorbell, email, text messages etc. Such is the convention that it has occurred to me to craft a little story based around the flouting of it that comes so naturally to both V and me!

Anyway, what follows is based on a short story by Richard Matheson (Button Button) that was executed in even more concise form as an episode of the Twilight Zone...which V kept trying to remember as we took in Richard Kelly's extended remix.

A sinister yet polite visitor with half his face missing presents Diaz's character Norma with a wooden box with a big red button on top, and informs her that if either she or her husband should decide to press this button, someone they don't know will die. Shortly afterwards the couple will receive $1m in cash, tax-free. He then gives her a $100 bill as a no-strings sweetener.

It's 1976 and Norma's husband Arthur works at NASA on the optics for the Viking Mars lander. But he's been turned down for astronaut school and Norma has just been informed that she will no longer get a staff discount on her son's education. So the button has a certain allure.

To extend this premise to a couple of hours Kelly has had to lay it on a bit thick with the uncanny circumstances, only some of which are worth trying to get your head around. Yet in spite of this period sci-fi padding, we never ceased caring about what happened to Arthur and Norma...even after we'd given up caring whether it all made fact, long after we were certain that much of it didn't.

Another reminder of the talents of Cameron Diaz. The score deserves a special mention too.

Grade: B (+)

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