Phone Booth

on April 04, 2003 by Kevin Courrier
"Phone Booth" is a gimmick disguised as a thriller. Stuart Shepard (Collin Farrell) is a high-strung New York celebrity publicist who fakes his success. He spends his days pacing the street, hyping himself to potential clients on his cell phone. The only other calls he makes are on a pay phone to his girlfriend Kelly (Katie Holmes). That's because Stuart's wife always checks his cell phone records. After Stuart finishes with Kelly, the pay phone starts to ring. When Stuart answers, the man on the other line tells him that he has a rifle trained on him. For the next hour, Stuart (and the audience) are trapped in this phone booth while the police, and the media, surround the booth, assuming that Stuart is incriminated in a murder.

"Phone Booth" is essentially B-movie material jacked up to a hysterical pitch by Joel Schumacher. Schumacher isn't interested in developing a funny, suspenseful movie about how our obsessions with phones can suddenly turn on us. What he does instead is present a morality tale wherein Stuart has to own up to his sins. "Phone Booth" is the kind of movie in which the killer occupies such a moral high ground that his intentions seem no different than your neighborhood priest.

Colin Farrell gave nicely varied performances in "Hart's War" and Schumacher's "Tigerland." But in "Phone Booth," he's as spiritually overwrought as Treat Williams in "Prince of the City." Most of the talented cast--Forest Whitaker as a cop, Katie Holmes as the girlfriend and Radha Mitchell as Stuart's wife--only get to stand around watching Stuart fall apart. Schumacher also provides a clever trick ending. Unfortunately, by that time, "Phone Booth" has left a message you've heard too many times before. Starring Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes and Radha Mitchell. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Larry Cohen. Produced by Gil Netter and David Zucker. A 20th Century Fox release. Drama. Rated R for pervasive language and some violence. Running time: 80 min

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