Director – Tarsem Singh
Cast – Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne Jean Baptiste, Gerry Becker
Release Year – 2000
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that I had always heard a lot about but took a very long time to get to viewing. Acclaimed music video director Tarsem Singh broke away from the music scene and in his first attempt at a full length feature film…solidified himself as one of the greatest cinematographers alive, and a very good director as well. His work in The Cell has been mimicked by others and as one of my best buds put it, “seems like a very long version of Nine Inch Nail’s “Closer” music video”, and I must agree with him 100 percent.
The Cell follows Jennifer Lopez as Catherine Deane, a psychotherapist who is participating in a very new and very risky psychotherapy procedure where she can actually interact with people who are in comas. FBI Special Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) has been searching for a sadistic serial killer over a long course of time and finally has his chance to nail the bast*rd. However, he finds the serial killer in a comatose state(thanks to a dormant virus in his body that just kicked in), with one victim still being kept alive somewhere but with a very short period of time left to live. Out of other more “accepted” options, Mr. Novak learns of Catherine Deane’s work and rushes the serial killer to her. She must now try her risky psychotherapy procedure to get inside the killer’s mind and find out where his last victim is before it is too late. Of course…the only thing riskier than her procedure itself is performing that procedure on a serial killer!
I was very surprised at how well this film incorporated both a good story, and a very artistic interpretation together. Multiple times I have been witness to a film with a great story, but horrible direction, or vise-versa, a film with a crappy story yet it looks amazing. Director Tarsem Singh really struck gold with this film, and although it can come off a bit weird at times, all of the film’s elements tie in together and make for a very interesting story. The contrast and back story between the killer’s alter=egos that we become witness to in the killer’s mind are perfect and give us some very good character development for the killer as well. Surprisingly enough…the role of the killer is excellently portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, whom most of you will know as Det. Robert Goren, the lead male character on the TV show Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He has shown himself during his film career to be a very strong actor, in a variety of roles. He was excellent as the killer in this film and has the viewer honestly believing that he really is enjoying what he does. Haha!
The leads in this film, Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn, portrayed their characters very well also. Vince Vaughn did not come off as the typical “Vince Vaughn”, and I do not think we had a single comedic one-liner from his character, which is indeed a rarity. Jennifer Lopez surprisingly sold her role very well, although I can think of a few others who would have possibly portrayed her character a little better. Nonetheless, her performance was good and I am sure she really enjoyed getting in all of the different costumes she needed during the psychotherapy scenes.
There is really nothing that I did not like about this film. The direction was solid, the cinematography was amazing, the acting was good, and the development and pacing of the film were good as well. I guess the only knock against this film to some people would be that it can get a bit weird and outlandish at times but c’mon, we are traveling inside the mind of a very sadistic serial killer for crying out loud!
Overall, this is a great film that I recommend everyone view at least once and watch some marvelous filmmaking at hand.