Retro Review: Phone Booth

Colin Farrell answers the call to fame as he steps up to the plate in his second teaming with director Joel Schumacher.

Farrell plays Stu Sheperd, New York publicist who uses his wits and smooth talking to wheel deals by the crackle and tone of a cell-phone. Sheperd has been predictable for the past little while in that he always stops at the same phone booth, at the same time a day to make a call to his girlfriend, Pam (Katie Holmes). Why the “song-and-dance” routine? Why not use his cell phone? You see, Sheperd is also very married to Kelly (Radha Mitchell).

Like any other day, Stu steps into the phone booth and makes his call. He talks his sweet nothings and hangs up. As he exits the booth, the phone rings. As soon as he picks up the receiver, Stu’s life forever changes.

The amazing thing about Phone Booth is that the film showcases its use of dialogue more than a lot of films do today. The conversation between Farrell and the caller is electrifying. How the director is able to maintain the tension throughout is intense. There are some liberties taken to propel the script. How the caller knows so much about Stu is a little over the top. But the dialogue and almost real-time showcase of the events makes Phone Booth a thought-wrenching watch.

The problem with Phone Booth for me was the happenings that take the audience away from Farrell and his caller. I had a hard time with the people outside the booth. The hookers, the bouncer and the cops were all just clichés and that took away from the tension. I felt the film should have stuck with its primary focus.

Farrell is very effective as Sheperd and brings a lot of vulnerability to the sleaze-ball he shows in the film’s opening. Farrell is also very good at being rattled when the tension reaches its highest. You are pulled into the man and his predicament.

It is no wonder that Joel Schumacher wanted this to be Farrell’s second film after “Tigerland” because it truly showcases his charisma and on-screen appeal.

I have always liked Radha Mitchell and she does once more a wonderful job as Sheperd’s torn-apart wife. This actress has the ability to be beautiful, tormented, distressed and panicked all in one look. It’s hard to find a pretty face with so much depth.

Forest Whitaker and Katie Holmes also do good jobs but there is a booming echo that these actors have played similar characters before. Especially with Holmes when she was so good in “The Gift”. Some director needs to take a chance on her and let her do more characters opposite to the ones she has played oodles before.

Phone Booth will grab you and if you are smart you will let it.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: April 7, 2003

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