Minding's her own business
The Cell
Review by Ross Anthony

Whew... I'm almost speechless, thoughtless ... out of my mind. I've been assaulted with music video images (Rated R for graphic violence) for nearly two hours. I'm not sure what to think.

Well, I had to eat (that's for sure). After mentioning that I'd just seen "The Cell" the waitress at a local restaurant asked, "Oh, how was it? I want to see it?" My head just went blank. Hmmmm. The film's strange, so strange that the quick rating neuron in my brain kind of flickered 'E' for error.

Here's my best shot:

The film opens with Jenny, in a flaming white dress, on the back of black horse trotting across the ridges of barren and endless sand dunes. She meets a child and tries to encourage him out of his shyness. But it's not real, she's in his mind and he's in a coma. This is the set up. Shift attention to a serial killer, who has kidnapped his latest beautiful victim, caged her in an automated torture cell and then collapsed into a coma himself. The cops find him, but have no idea the location of "The Cell." By now we begin see Jenny's use here, a psychologist in a futuristic facility capable of mind connections.

All of this is filmed beautifully (though at times grainy) with keen attention paid to transitions and sound. The film has big audio. Even in the real world, the John Woo feel of direction gives a surreal edge. But once into the minds of our principals ... sit back and enjoy the wild imagery. High kudos to the art directors and costume designers.

Disturbing, sick, with moments of out and out gore, the film is a twisted mix of last year's two big hits "The Sixth Sense" and "The Matrix." Though, interesting and respectably compelling, not quite as fulfilling as either.

Bones? Okay, I've got nothing against Jennifer's butt, but not in this film - she's a psychologist! An earlier gratuitous shot of Jen in her underwear is clearly beneath the picture. Additionally, her glamour make up is distracting. Perhaps it works in the mind sequences; but in reality, I think a more plain/stark appearance would have complemented the film (as with Tomei in "The Watcher"). Lastly, we're asked to buy into this sci-fi techno-potentiality ... I was willing, but why the actual "mind-connecting" room was fitted for locks is completely over the top hard to believe. One must unfortunately chalk it up as a contrivance used only for plot progression.

That said, good story telling, excellent direction, never a boring moment.

  • The Cell. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber.
  • Directed by Tarsem Singh.
  • Written by Mark Protosevich.
  • Produced by Julio Caro, Eric McLeod at New Line.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:16:31 PDT