Director: Tarsem Singh.
Starring. Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker. USA. 1h 47m.
I missed the boat on this visual adventure I don’t feel too hard done by but I think if I had watched this 19 years ago then I might have got more of a wow out of the visuals but I’m sure I’d agree with myself that the story was a little weak. But what we didn’t know back then is that Tarsem Singh was only now beginning his his filmography of stunning but needful movies.
I got duped into seeing Anaconda (1997) and I’ll never trust J Low again, actually I didn’t watch her in anything until she acted alongside Viola Davis in Lila and Eve (2015) and I only watched it to see Viola do awesome shit.. but I was looking for visually stunning movies and it got mentioned, a lot, I knew that it involved some amazing costumes by Eiko Ishioka but I’m a sucker for a good story FIRST and stunning visuals to follow . This was a very lavish attempt at an insight into a killers mind while fueled up on bright dresses but also fell short at times usually when out of the dream world, the back up story just add up. Sadly it I was left feeling that this was just a poor rip off of Silence of the Lambs (1991) with an emphasis on style rather than substance, and masochistic imagery.
This thriller follows JLo as child psychiatrist, Dr. Catherine Deane, who is privy to a technological advance way of helping her patients. This method of stepping into the subconscious has been invented by the highly strung Dr Henry West (Dylan Baker) and his amazing team, including the multitalented Marianne Jean-Baptiste, but the how, why and when of this technology is never addressed, but if someone has told me that he was going to appear in this I would have watched it sooner. Struggling with the inner demons of a young boy is too much for the doctor, but after a highly dangerous psychopathic and deranged serial killer, Carl Rudolph Stargher (D’Onofrio) is found in a schizophrenic coma, with evidence of one victim about to go into a deadly watery Saw style trap, she has carte blanche over his psyche to try and piece together where this last victim is. Teaming up with a lively Vince Vaughn as s Special Agent Peter Novak, one enters the surreal and the other rambles around in the real world to solve this freakish case.
Obviously the lavish sets and costumes take over in fantasy land, a sort of dark psychosexual dreamland of a pervert and it makes for pretty cinema but ultimately lacking in depth and originality. It has some attractions apart from the bright colours and imaginative sets, J lo doesn’t talk much in the fantasy land and D’onofrio is the crazed villain whose moral compass and questionable actions are unbound but deep down he’s nothing much than a scared child, which is pretty convenient. One minute he’s suspending himself over video footage of dying women for fun, the next he’s hiding in a cupboard, then he’s a snake skinned king with muscular women guards and a playground of feminine bodies all caged up in their own independent sexual scenario..
For me the film was fully botoxed, it looked so stunning overall it was pretty disappointing, I feel that Cell is supposed to be this awe inspiring attempt to look into the subconscious of any depraved killer but really it’s just a feature length 90’s music video that has a lose attachment to a cop thriller that struggles in it’s own rights.
I understand that you’d need a pretty face to attach to such a visual adventure but without an equally thrilling narrative for me it’s nothing more than something flashy to look at. When it’s supposed to be creepy and dangerous it’s just more showy and the sense of pain and danger get sucked into the technicolour. Most of the main cast weren’t really at the height of their career, apart from D’onofrio, sadly it took Vince a long time to really come into his own with the amazing character of Bradley Thomas in Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2018) but with an ounce of that, maybe there would be something more to absorb, but it’s far from the greatness that it could have been.
R – Solace (2016), Se7en (1995), Dreamscape (1984)
L – Lost in the subconscious Vol 1
5s – Vincent D’onofrio, Vince Vaughn, J Lo