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Movie Reviews

The Cell  

Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez)
Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn)
Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio)
Dr. Kent (Marianne Jean-Baptiste)
Young Carl (Jake Thomas)

Directed by Tarsem Written by Mark Protosevich

Rated R for bizarre violence, nudity, sexual images and language
Running Time: 108 minutes Distributed by New Line Cinema
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The Cell is a visually creative film that is unique and disturbing. The film opens with the introduction of Catherine Deane (Lopez), who is a child psychiatrist. Catherine has been involved in an advanced neurological study, where she's been using her empathetic abilities and breakthrough technology to enter the mind of a young catatonic boy. Her job is to help bring the boy back to the real world. Then enters the character of Carl Stargher (D'Onofrio), who is a psychopathic serial killer that takes the life of his female victims in the cell, which is a glass chamber where he drowns the women. FBI agent Peter Novak (Vaughn) has been searching for Carl ever since his killing spree began. As the FBI finally closes in on the killer, Carl has a seizure and is then taken into custody, but not before leaving his latest victim alive in the cell with less than 40 hours to live. The FBI quickly approach Catherine to use her therapy and studies to go in to Carl's mind and find where the cell is located and attempt to save an innocent woman before it is to late.

The Cell is really a brilliant film that is full of bizarre and stunning moments. The film reminded me a lot of The Silence of the Lambs and The Vanishing. I do warn that you must have a strong stomach to watch this film, due to its graphic violence.

The director of The Cell is a man named Tarsem. He is formally known as Tarsem Singh, but he has recently dropped his last name. This is Tarsem's first Hollywood film and I already can't wait to see his next film. Tarsem's direction is flat-out super in this film. He takes a dark script full of evil and good substances and makes the film into an amazing visual, almost like a funhouse. Some of the visuals are beautiful, some are eerie and a few are absurd, but most of them capture and drench the film in a fashionable manner. Outside of all the visuals that Tarsem creates in this film, he doesn't forget about the characters and the story. He parallels each character with each's own story, which all tie together into the plot. The film is not only creative, but also sad and very thrilling.

Another aspect in the vision of the director and designers were the costumes use in The Cell. All of the freakish sides of Carl in his mind have different costumes that help capture the atmosphere of the disarranged individual. One of the costumes is bright, one is dark and most of them have cool capes. The costumes are very effective in contributing to Tarsem's nightmarish world.

Mark Protosevich's script for The Cell is very dark, strange and character driven. Protosevich was probably the first to think of some of the visuals of this film, but Tarsem mostly elaborate from his own vision. The script resembled some of the same obstacles for the characters as in The Silence of the Lambs. An example is in both films; the FBI is against the clock to attempt to save a young female from a serial killer. I liked the characters in this film, Protosevich in a way let's the audience make their own interpretation of the character's past. An example is a question of if one of the FBI agents was physically abused as a child. It is never said in the dialogue, but the structure of the character and the body language of the actor led me to believe that he was. Protosevich's structure is something you don't sense in a lot of films, but I believe more films, especially suspense thrillers, would be better if the structure was taken.

Jennifer Lopez is a lot better of an actress than she is a singer. A lot better. She turns in a patient and solitude performance as the psychiatrist Catherine. I have always like Lopez as an actress and I hope that she chooses more in-depth roles like Catherine in the future. Vince Vaughn turns his career around with his terrific performance as the dedicated FBI agent Peter Novak. Vaughn broke into Hollywood with his hilarious performance in Swingers and his dynamite acting in Return to Paradise. But since then he has not done any work that is good. However, he bounces back with his acting in The Cell. Vincent D'Onofrio has always been stereotyped as an actor who makes a great psychopath and hot-tempered character. I have thought he was incredible since his breakthrough performance as Private Pile in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. D'Onofrio is very chilling as the killer Carl, but he also shows a soft and scared side of the character as well. His range is absolutely fabulous.

The Cell is an artistic film that is very well made. However, this film is sick with its violence and content. So, if you could not stomach a film like Seven or The Silence of the Lambs, don't see The Cell. But if you are a moviegoer that is searching for something different and abstract, this film is right up your alley. The direction has the style of Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick. Watch for The Cell to receive Oscar nominations for art direction, costume design and maybe cinematography.

Report Card Grade: B+

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