One of the few artistically decent films that Joel Schumacher has directed over the past decade, “Phone Booth” is a taut suspenseful thriller, starring Colin Farrell (Schumacher’s personal discover) in a good performance that helped elevate him to Hollywood stardom.
Farrell plays Stuart Shepard, a man whose life is thrown into turmoil by accidentally picking up a telephone while walking down the street.
The scenario for this claustrophobic thriller by exploitation director Lrry Cohen begins well, but loses credibility as it goes along. Even so, the first, rather compelling reel grabs you by the gut, arousing your interest, and makes you empathize with Stu–sort of, what if I had innocently picked yp the phone?
Stu Shepard begins as a brash, cynical, self-centered public relations man, who juggles a busy career with both a wife, Kelly (Radha Mitchell), and a mistress, Pamela (Katie Holmes).
One day, Stu steps into a phone booth on a busy New York street to make a call to Pamela without Kelly being the wiser, but as soon as Stu hangs up, the phone begins to ring. Curious, Stu picks it up, and from that point on, his life becomes unbearably hellish.
On the other end (voice of Kiefer Sutherland) informs him that if he hangs up the phone, he’ll be shot. The red dot of an infrared rifle scope convinces Stu that the caller means business, and when another man tries to make his way into the booth, he’s shot. This calls the attention of the police. Captain Ramey (Forest Whitaker), who assumes that Stu was the killer.
Meanwhile, Stu struggles to find a way to convince the police of what’s happening before more lives are lost, without leaving the booth and putting his own life on the line.
You are not supposed to ask basic questions of probability: Why would a menacing stranger want to kill a PR man? The movie was made in 2003, just before cellular phones began popular and public phone boots began to disappear from sight. As such, it serves as an historical document, sort of an archeological item, of the role that street phones used to play in our daily lives, and how new technologies and media quickly made obsolete and even unnecessary.
Running time: 80 Minutes.
Directed by Joel Schumacher.
July 8, 2003
20th Century Fox