“Phone Booth” is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that unravels in real time. The concept is fantastic – a manipulative liar enters a phone booth to partake in his daily infidelity when a sniper contacts him and forces him to confess his sins at distant gunpoint. While you might be thinking “How much could possibly happen if the entire thing takes place in a phone booth?”, the script is written in a way that constantly builds momentum and introduces characters into the story throughout. It begins a little slow, but that is necessary so that the situation can begin subtly and then escalate. The reason that this film works is the acting. Colin Farrell plays his character in a way that we hate him and then pity him. His emotions drive the plot and create a shift in our emotions (the way that he talks to his assistant, the mean things that he has to say to the police captain, his heartfelt confession to his wife). Forest Whitaker is the other key to this story, allowing us to differentiate between the information that the characters know and the information that the audience knows. And probably the most important part of the film is Kiefer Sutherland’s voice. The way that he delivers the sniper’s dialogue makes us see him with disgust without ever seeing him. Add in an amazing twist at the end and this strange concept becomes a worthwhile cinematic experience. Could it have been done better? Probably. But “Phone Booth” is good enough that they don’t need to try. Next time, just trap them on a ski lift or buried in the ground.
[Pictured: It is amazing how much action can occur in one phone booth.]