This one I recommend.

Lovely; brilliant in its mysteriousness

Arthur (Marsden) and Norma (Diaz) with their gift.

Saw this film in school recently, when me and my classmates were told to write down important moments of the movie to see if we could analyze and interpret the quite confusing film. I don’t mean to boast but I think I took more notes than anyone else.

Despite that, I’m afraid I cannot explain to you some of the more surreal moments of Richard Kelly’s The Box, a film that confused me just as much as it engaged and fascinated me. I believe it is impossible to figure this movie out after seeing it but once.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a married couple with a child, Walter (Sam Oz Stone); Norma is a teacher with a damaged foot and Arthur works for NASA, working rather hard to become an astronaut. They are in need of money. One day they discover a package outside their front door and find a mysterious device within it. Not much later, Norma encounters an equally mysterious man, Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), who has a huge scar on his left cheek; he explains to her how her new device works. If they push the button and two things will happen: someone they don’t know will die and they will receive a million dollars in cash, delivered by Steward himself.

Indeed, after they finally decide to push the button, they are given a briefcase with a million dollars by Steward and a woman gets killed by her husband, for reasons unknown. Steward explains that he will now give the device to someone they don’t know, implying that one of them might get killed next, even their son. Asking Steward to take the money back and call of the whole thing proves fruitless, since a person already has been killed.

Frank Langella as Steward, a disfigured chap whose backstory is still quite the mystery.

Arthur and Norma do what they can to track Steward down and stop everything, although this seems to make it all worse. Very peculiar things start to occur around them – Walter’s babysitter (Gillian Jacobs) starts acting weird and showing signs of knowing a thing or two about the device, people suddenly freeze and stare ominously at the protagonists in a library, Arthur meets the woman who apparently got killed earlier and she proceeds to show him three portals made of hovering liquid, employees at the National Security Agency abduct people and lead them to similar portals, something horrid mysteriously happens to Walter, etc. Whilst all this occurs we find out more and more about Steward’s backstory and sinister motives, but not enough to NOT feel perplexed.

A confusing film is most certainly not a bad film, however! The Box is definitely not bad, but definitely confusing. Like I said, I wrote down a lot as I watched the film but I remained unable to figure certain things out. It did not matter, though. What’s so wonderful about most of Richard Kelly’s film is how they mystify you and how they make you feel inside as they do so. Is it not true, after all, that the riddle is sometimes much more interesting than the answer? I for one am glad that this film is not exactly easy to comprehend. It’s more fascinating when one doesn’t understand it.

I enjoyed The Box tremendously, almost as much as Donnie Darko even; I loved the performances, particularly Frank Langella’s, I loved the music, I loved the visuals, I loved the writing, I loved the cinematography, I was fully involved in the story throughout and most of all, I loved how Richard Kelly once more employs music and skillful editing to make many scenes in The Box feel strangely unnerving. I am not sure how to delicately put it; to call the film “scary” is wrong, but there is always something about the movie that makes one feel uncomfortable and only mildly frightened. Richard Kelly did this equally well with Donnie Darko, which is also a strangely eerie, uncomfortable picture.

The Box.

Either way, I did like The Box immensely; it is true that it is difficult to figure out the meaning behind much of what happens and to understand the film fully, but there is nothing wrong with that. That’s the thing about puzzles; when you are trying to put it together you are interested in what image it will create, but when you look upon the finished puzzle, there isn’t a lot that’s intriguing about it anymore.

Remember, if Frank Langella ever comes to your house giving you much money and a box, it is best if you say no right away. Things will go from bad to worse. Guaranteed!

4.5/5 whatever

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