The Box



The Box gets a passing grade chiefly for what it is not:  It’s not boring and it’s not predictable.  As for what it is … good grief.  A mess?

Based on a short story by Richard Matheson (a writer whose work runs the Hollywood gamut; everything from the good, like I Am Legend, to the bizarre, like this film), The Box left me scratching my head.  Should I watch it again, to see if it makes more sense?  Nah, I didn’t like it well enough the first time.  But it does have intriguing parts to its ridiculous whole.

Start with the soundtrack.  It’s rare that I even notice the background music in thrillers.  But in this film the score by Arcade Fire screams for attention.  It often becomes a distraction, as the musical group channels everything from Bernard Herrmann to 1970s strings and bells.  And yet, like the film itself, the music has an odd charm.

Matheson’s plot is about a young couple forced to make a difficult choice:  earn a million bucks but cause someone’s death, or decline the money.  That’s an old plot, but there’s no denying the film’s originality.       Grade:  C-


Director:  Richard Kelly  Cast:  Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, James Rebhorn, Holmes Osborne  Release:  2009


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