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The Box (2009)

The Box (2009)

Cameron DiazJames MarsdenFrank LangellaJames Rebhorn
Richard Kelly


The Box (2009) is a English movie. Richard Kelly has directed this movie. Cameron Diaz,James Marsden,Frank Langella,James Rebhorn are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2009. The Box (2009) is considered one of the best Drama,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

Norma and Arthur Lewis, a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world, someone they don't know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.


The Box (2009) Reviews

  • Good film, marred slightly by the usual Kelly tics


    In the winter of 1967, Professor Charles Goetzinger conducted an experiment in his Basic Persuasion Class, hiring an actor to attend all his classes wearing a large black bag. Strangely, after several days, the black bag began to inspire anger in the other students. Goetzinger's students would pick fights with, taunt and tease the black bag, seemingly unable to recognise that there was a human being within it. What Goetzinger's experiment showed was that anonymity loosens the restraints on aggressive behaviour, and that when victims are anonymous, and therefore dehumanised, it grows easier to commit violence against them. This echoes the countless bizarre reports of children at Disneyland striking hapless costumed characters for no apparent reason and why most movies, especially war movies, deindividualize the Other in an effort not to implicate their audiences. Richard Kelly's "The Box", which can be divided into three sections, deals with these themes, but goes a bit further. In its first section (lasting approximately 30 minutes) we have a fairly faithful retelling of "Button, Button", a Richard Matheson short story and "Twilight Zone" episode (1986). This section involves a couple (Norma and Arthur) who are given a box by a strange man named Steward. The box is equipped with one button, and should either Norma or Arthur push it, they will promptly be given a million dollars. The catch is, pressing the button results in someone they don't know immediately dying. Of course Norma pushes the button anyway. Why wouldn't she? The box facilitates disavowal. Modern man, though he knows his actions cause suffering, is himself increasingly isolated from the consequences of his choices. Steward gives Norma and Arthur their money and then leaves with the box, but not before ominously stating that the box will now be offered to "someone whom you don't know". Shocked, the couple suddenly realise that thousands of these boxes are around the country, everyone given the chance to make easy money at someone else's expense. Norma and Arthur, far from being suddenly wealthy, are now in mortal danger; they may be exploited by any number of button pushers around the world. The message: if everyone is willing to have others suffer in order to facilitate their own personal gains, then all is already lost, the film drawing broad parallels between capitalism, war, human nature, greed and violence. In the second part of the film, Kelly tells us that the boxes are really a test given to mankind by aliens. The aliens are gathering data, and if humans are found to be selfish and beyond redemption, they will destroy the planet. This is a classic flaw in science fiction films ("Abyss", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" etc), in which advanced beings "teach us not to be violent" by hypocritically "threatening us with violence". I call this "Big stick diplomacy", whereby a superpower negotiates peace whilst simultaneously threatening violence. Throw in a bunch of silly science fiction themes, worm holes, teleportation and the kind of apocalyptic pseudo-religious ending that ALL of Kelly's films have, and...well, let's just say Kelly sabotages his whole film with unnecessary mumbo jumbo. Luckily the third part of Kelly's film salvages everything. Early in the film Norma mentions Jean Paul Sartre. Later, Norma and Arthur go to a performance of Sartre's 1944 existentialist play, "No Exit", and find the words "No Exit" written on their car window. Sartre, of course, famously said in "No Exit" that "Hell is other people", the implication being that the earth is "made hell" because we become throwaway objects when in the gaze of others. More horrifically, modern man no longer has the ability to "choose" whether he presses the button or not. In the age of globalization, he has ceased to become a subject and is now a default participant. To escape the global system is to be free, but escape is impossible. This is partially why the film's aesthetic is labyrinthine and confusing, and wholly divorced from the cosy spaces of the 1986 Twilight Zone episode. Kelly recognises that Matheson's world is long gone. The system's labyrinthine tendrils criss-cross in all directions to such an extent that boxes and buttons are now continually overlapping and always unwittingly pressed. The film's way out of this gridlock is essentially what Godard espouses in "Our Music" ("Who are you?"), man encouraged to make empathetic connections born of mutual suffering, rather than either avoidance or blind tolerance. This notion of "compassion born of mutual suffering" is articulated at the end of the film, when Norma begins to identify with Steward. She has a mutilated foot and he has a mutilated face, and by recognising his pain and suffering she is able to regret having pushed the button. We then learn that "The Box Test" has a second phase. He who pushes the button must sacrifice themselves for their child, which of course is what Norma does. She allows herself to be shot so that her son may live. The implication is that whilst everyone on the planet has selfishly pressed the button, man is nevertheless inherently good enough to sacrifice himself for his fellowman. Cue cheesy CGI water, worm holes and silly baptism, purgatory and hell metaphors. Kelly's point: there is "No Exist", no escaping the world, only the fleeting chance of a kind of mutual empathy, a kind of heaven on earth. 8/10 – Ignore what the film says about the acronym HREM. With the film constantly referencing X-rays, it means "High Resolution Electron Microscopy". IE – the box test is an X ray of humanity, the aliens trying to see what we're really like deep down inside.

  • creepy, strange and overall sinister, yet not very coherent or focused


    Richard Kelly's latest supernatural thriller "The Box" is creepy, strange and overall sinister, yet not very coherent or focused. One's opinion on the movie depends on whether one accepts its peculiar concept or not. I must say that I was initially enthralled by the movie's strange old-fashioned tone resembling sci-fi movies from the 1970s Kelly pays homage to. The movie handles its mystery rather well with Frank Langella's uniquely scary performance being the obvious highlight. Given that, the movie falters at the end when its otherwise intriguing concept gets bogged down by the series of ridiculous events that feel as if they were taken from a different movie. While The Box tends to approach the wrong territory and is rather unfocused, one can't help but acknowledge Kelly's ability to attract the viewer's attention. His obsessions may not be shared by very many people, but he manifests them in a richly textured manner. That's just enough to enjoy this movie despite its shortcomings. 6.5/10 (B-)

  • Like flavored chewing gum, starts amazing but ends tasteless


    This movie starts off with a couple waken up by the doorbell early in the morning. The woman Norma Lewis ( Cameron Diaz ) opens the door just to find out no one's at the door. But there is a mysterious box on the doorstep, and Norma brings it in. In the meanwhile Arhur Lewis ( James Marsden ) joins her at the diner table and together they unfold the wrapping paper to find a box with a big red button on top of it. On the box is a keyhole which needs a key to open up the top so you can press the button. They have no idea what it is or what it means but that will soon change. Later that day a mysterious creepy man is at the door, Norma opens the door and the man presents himself as Arlington Steward ( Frank Langella ). He is creepy in the sense that he has a big open burn mark on his face in the trend of Harvey Dent ( 2-face ) as seen in the Dark Knight. He will ask Norma if she received the box and will explain what it is. Mr. Steward gives Norma a key to open the box, and she can keep the key with the box for 24 hours, in that time she will have to make a special choice. If she will push the button, Steward will give the family a staggering 1 million dollars in cash BUT someone, somewhere in the world will die. To gain her trust Stewerd gives Norma a 100 dollar bill and leaves. So far so good, the first 30 minutes of this movie are good and interesting, and you will wonder what will happen if they press the button. The story has a great concept and is very promising. Unfortunately the movie collapse under it's own weight of complexity in the remaining 75 minutes or so. It's not because of bad acting, although Diaz is terrible, Marsden plays OK but not memorable and besides, Langella sticks out with head and shoulders. It's not bad directing either. I loved Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko so we're not dealing with a beginner. The Cinematography and camera-work is good and the atmosphere in the entire movie is really well done. It's just that the plot is turning out to be way to smart, but yet it feels dumb and clumsy. At moments the movie is very predictable, and sometimes you are scratching you'r head about what the hell just happened. You keep on watching because you'll expect that the movie will fall on it's place near the end. Unfortunately this is not happening and the movie ends with questions unanswered. Kelly is probably trying to create something that people will talk about after the movie and on birthdays. But to be honest I didn't care about the characters and the story no more, the last 20 minutes took forever and I remember asking my girlfriend if they could please get it over with. This movie is comparable to flavored chewing gum. It starts off with an explosion of flavor but as you keep on chewing the flavor is starting to go away and you end up with a dull tasteless piece of rubber in your mouth.

  • Why Wouldn't You Push the Button?


    Forget about Donnie Darko. I open with this because it seems that a good portion of the reviews I have read on The Box amount to the simple but weak argument that it doesn't hold a candle to Darko. It isn't that I disagree with that necessarily, I just feel that this movie is a different animal altogether and deserves its own analysis. There are points of comparison to be sure, but they are peripheral concerns when you consider that the key to the heart of each movie is different. In Darko, the driving force of the narrative is existential. In The Box, the driving force of the narrative stems from a moral dilemma. Believe me when I say that I understand the inclination to compare an innovative filmmakers'movies by looking for trends and patterns, but for me it is more important to approach each new film as a self contained entity first, and then broaden my gaze afterwards. The Box is one of those films you get mixed feelings about because it seems to be in some sort of identity crisis. It isn't always sure what it wants to be. The twists are numerous, but easy to follow if not to predict. James Marsden and Cameron Diaz play a relatively believable pair of newlyweds who are in financial straits. A Box containing a "button unit" arrives on their doorstep and they are informed by a horribly burned man that if pushed the button will cause the death of one person whom they don't know, and they will receive one million dollars. One of the things The Box achieves is to conjure up this invisible fear that somewhere out there our actions have moral consequences. Before the button is pushed it has an eerie and seductive quality, alluring yet sinister. Once it has been pushed, events are set in motion that make the two leads question their own morality and deeply regret their fateful decision. The notion that the Box is an experiment is interesting because for me it provides the movie with a paradox. If there are external beings developing an "altruism coefficient" based on data gathered by couples pushing and not pushing the button, then as the conspiracy unravels, we notice that ultimately it is a forced altruism: Be selfless or the species will be wiped out. I suppose the couples don't know the consequences of their actions when they are faced with making the decision, but they have no reason to suspect that The Box can do anything, so why would they choose altruistically? Is altruism devalued by the fact that we only care about it when presented with a problem in our own lives? The psychological hurdles in this movie are everywhere. Push the button or don't, it's likely someone is messing with you. Take the money or don't, no one gives anything away for free. Search for the truth, the answers you find slowly reveal your demise. I propose that The Box is an ironic work because it offers the false choice of free will while revealing that we are trapped in many metaphorical boxes. You can only choose to be free at the expense of another's life, is that freedom? No, it is only another box because then you become trapped in the consequences of your own morality. There is no escape for us because we live on earth and that is another Box. This is precisely why the external beings in the film are ultimately antagonists. They demand we conform to moral standards which rob us of our freedom. We made it to Mars, and we were burned for it and turned into slaves in a sick game. The references to Jean Paul Sartre illustrate this point rather well. "You can only enter the final chamber free, or not free." Sure, but no matter the form in which we enter the chamber, it is a chamber nonetheless. Trevor Nemeth

  • I liked it.....


    After I heard how terrible this film was, I really wasn't expecting much. I almost didn't even rent it, but I am glad I did. I love Donnie Darko and I think with The Box, Kelly has gone back to the Darko style of writing and directing. I am not sure why it received so many bad reviews, maybe because like Donnie Darko it was too cerebral for the mainstream. It's not a movie you can do three things and watch, you have to pay attention to the little details. I do feel there are missing pieces that weren't explained, but that could be the way the film was edited and may come out later in a directors cut edition, or it could be Kelly's way of keeping the audience guessing. I can see how this movie wouldn't appeal to the masses, especially since it is a cautionary tale of morals and ethics, but if you liked Donnie Darko, you will probably enjoy The Box. I can see this having a cult following like Donnie Darko. Also I am not a Cameron Diaz fan, but I think she did a great job. I had heard awful things about her performance in this, but in my opinion this was one of her better roles.


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