Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A film entitled The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James "27 Dresses" Marsden, and you’d easily be forgiven for thinking this a romantic comedy. A featherweight caper about the mishaps of proposing perhaps. But with Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly at the helm, you’re in for quite another ride indeed.
Instead, The Box will take you into the depths of a morality play. Adapting Richard Matheson’s short story Button, Button, Kelly recreates 1976 Virginia, where private school teacher Norma (Diaz) and NASA engineer Arthur (Marsden) are an upwardly mobile suburban couple with a young son (Kevin DeCoste), living slightly beyond their means. When Arthur is looked over for a promotion and Norma retrenched, they are visited by a disfigured stranger, Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) and offered one million dollars to push a button.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.
As the consequences of their decision unfold, Norma and Arthur try to find the source of this high-stakes proposition, which reaches far beyond anything they might have fathomed. Here Kelly is clearly in his element, revelling in the tantalising world where, “advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He layers a Hitchcockian aesthetic on this mind-bending material, and further turns the screw by incorporating existential, even biblical elements into his moral experiment.
While the set-up is a bit laboured, and certain reveals a bit too heavily emphasised, The Box is an intriguing, thrilling and provocative cinematic experience. Donnie Darko fans may not find the film quite up to scratch, but surely everyone will be fascinated to see what Kelly has land in the bedroom this time.
Popcorn Taxi is hosting a preview screening on Wednesday October 21st (7pm at Greater Union Bondi Junction) with a special Q&A session with Kelly live from LA. Click here for more details.
To win one of ten double passes to The Box, email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'The Box' in the subject line.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 29 October 2009