A view to kill
SMART MOVE: Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) tries to outwit the crooks.
Panic Room (ENGLISH)
Cast: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker
Dir: David Fincher
NICOLE KIDMAN was supposed to play the role of Meg Altman in Panic Room. An ankle injury during the shooting of Moulin Rouge had Kidman step out of the role, which went to Jodie Foster. Watching the film, one feels it was a lucky piece of casting.
Foster brings an edgy intelligence coupled with warmth into her interpretation of Meg Altman, the recently divorced mother of a diabetic child caught in a worst case scenario. Meg and her daughter, Sarah, move into an elegant brownstone in New York. Apart from the gracious dimensions, the soaring staircases and sunroof, the house is equipped with a panic room.
Previously owned by an eccentric, paranoid millionaire, the panic room with concrete walls, an impenetrable door made of steel, a buried phone line and a bank of surveillance monitors seems to be the perfect place to hide if the house is attacked.
On their first night in the new house, Meg finds out that there are three intruders. She rushes with Sarah into the panic room only to realise that what the intruders want is in the panic room. A cat and mouse game begins between the thieves and Meg.
Panic Room has everything going for it - from a well-thought out script to excellent acting. The choices Meg makes are the kind a normal person would make when confronted with a perilous situation.
The script does not give any free handouts and is scrupulously fair. There is a fair degree of humour and the characters are well etched. Jodie Foster is excellent as always as Meg, while Forest Whitaker is good as the crook with a heart - Burnham as is Kristen Stewart as Sarah.
Apart from acting and script, the other thing that demands mention is the phenomenal camera work. With almost ninety per cent of the film being set in the house and huge chunks in the panic room, it is mind boggling to see the innovations the camera has indulged in.
The angles, the zooms, the long shots and close up all contribute to the feeling of space expanding and contracting at will. There are times when the walls disappear into the gloom and other moments when the walls seem to close in.
Veteran cinematographer Conrad Hall with Darius Khondji should be commended for the way space and light have been used in the film. This is Khondji's third collaboration with director David Fincher.
Both the earlier films -- Aliens - 3 and Seven - were rich, atmospheric thrillers. While one was set in a futuristic world, the other was set in the mean streets. Here the two collaborate to create menace and tension in a safe place to make a film that easily holds its own against the popcorn blockbusters of the season.
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