God. I. Love. This. Movie.
I can’t add much to the old review except the 5-star rating, and I don’t always update reviews much when that’s the case these days, but I noticed something odd which might be contributing to my love of the movie this viewing, and that’s its possible total structural similarity to William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, which I’m gonna have to look into on a future viewing. I only began to notice it towards the end – someone goes out of a window, a little girl is punched in the face, the cops show up, and there’s a hectic finale where amidst the screams and shouts one character is staring out the window into the night. To me it seems too insanely similar, and I started trying to remember other things – a mattress thrown across the room (the bed shaking?), separated mother and daughter, and isn’t The Exorcist pretty much all set in the one house? I’m sure I’m not imagining the huge similarities here. Hey, if ain’t broke …
But even overlooking that, it makes no difference to what I said in the old review. It’s the insane perfection that impresses me most about this movie. There’s a good few handfuls of movies that fall into the insane perfection category, most of them Stanley Kubrick’s, but this is the one I’d personally choose to put in the time capsule to represent them. I’m still blown away by it, and it’s one of those visual effects movies that don’t just demonstrate the cutting edge technology (virtual cinematography in this case), they set the benchmark (even 4 years on, it’s practically invisible).
Can you see how much I love it, lol? “Can’t add much to the old review” my arse Somebody shut me up!!!!
31st March 2004:
How perfect need a movie be? For some reason I completely passed on seeing this movie in the cinema, despite being a huge Jodie Foster fan at the time (and still), and I held off buying the DVD even until the new 3-disc edition was released recently. My first experience of the movie was an internet download of a DVD rip, I confess… but even in that context, I knew instantly that it was my kind of movie.
Usually I like movies to say something. Often I feel like a movie isn’t even a movie unless it’s got some message, some life-affirming or life-changing agenda, and the more it hits me in the face, the better… even David Fincher’s movie before this, Fight Club, just as technically meticulous, was about our obsession with perfection, our materialism, why not just dive into the inevitability of death instead of trying to be forever young? But now and then, as a total lover of film, there are movies that can be about nothing, be saying nothing, but be even more purely cinematic for it. And that’s where Panic Room falls.
I absolutely adore this movie, it’s just all over creative perfection and cinematic invention. If I’d been 24 when Orson Welles made Citizen Kane, I would’ve reacted the same way, but I’m 24 now and this is today’s Citizen Kane. I can’t believe I’m going to review this small thriller movie and refer to all three cinematic legends but I’ll try and keep all the drooling within one paragraph. The quantity of invention is Welles. The story, so simple – single mother and daughter move into a new house which happens to have a panic room, get broken into on their first night, enter said panic room, only, what the breakers-in want is in the panic room – is completely Hitchcock, as are the inventive camera moves, putting the camera where the camera “can’t” be. But the meticulousness with which the whole thing is put together, and the coldness of the atmosphere, is completely Kubrick. Then add a cast of terrific actors – Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam and Forest Whitaker – and this is basically what some people might call a waste of talent, but what I call absolutely brilliant.