Panic Room

March 29, 2002

Director –
David FincherMajor Actors –
Jodie Foster …. Meg Altman
Kristen Stewart …. Sarah Altman
Forest Whitaker …. Burnham
Dwight Yoakam …. Raoul
Jared Leto …. Junior
IMDB Information

Analysis –
Acting :
This film, like most drama films, relied greatly on the acting capabilities of the performers in the picture. All in all, the cast gave a very compelling performance. Jodie Foster is probably one of my favorite actresses, and her portrayal of Meg Altman (which alternated between wet-your-pants afraid and dry wit) was extremely good. Stewert’s Sarah Altman was a similarly strong female character, a pleasant change from the standard movie schlock of witless teens and children. The movie in the film were across the board annoying, from Leto’s Junior (who I wanted to punch during the entire film) to Patrick Bauchau’s portrayal of the pathetic and witless Stephen Altman, Meg’s ex-husband. The only redeemable male character, Forest Whitaker’s Burnham, was also uncomfortable to watch simply because of consistent bad choices. More on this dichotomy later.

Writing :
David Koepp wrote the screenplay for this film, and I really like a number of his other films (including Jurassic Park 1 and 2, and Spider-Man). This film is extremely easy to watch, from a dialogue point of view. The characters are all very natural (one scene I particularly liked was the pizza in the kitchen sequence), and all of the plot points were wholeheartedly believable. A solid script leads to a good movie, and this one was bedrock supportive.

Fincher. What else need I say?

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
The set in this film was pretty much 100% the house that the Altmans move into. For a “bottle picture”, this one managed not to leave you feeling to claustrophobic (unless that was the point of the scene). The costumes in this film are just regular old street clothes, but all of the selections were very nice, and contributed to the believability of the characters. The FX in this film were pretty limited, mostly just good lighting. There were some very cool shots, however, where the camera “passed through” walls and other interstitial spaces to show us action in another part of the house. These shots were used very sparingly, but always heightened the mood by a few notches when they were used. The music for this film was done by the wonderful Howard Shore (The Game, Lord of the Rings) and was wonderful in the extreme.

Movie Overall :
I greatly enjoyed this film, but I wish I could have enjoyed it more. That evening I was in a particularly weird mood, and for some reason interpreted the darkest scenes as moments of humor. Additionally, there were several groups of people around us who did not shut up during the ENTIRE film, despite repeated requests to stop talking. I’m going to have to rent it when it comes out on video so I can appreciate it more. I love Fincher’s work, and the feminist in me gave him even more respect after reflection on this film. The two lead female characters in this film are very strong-willed and self reliant. All of the idiots and n’er do-wells in this film are male. While the end of the movie involves major help from males at a critical point, it is the survival instincts and kickassedness of the ladies who allow the main characters to reach that point in the film.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth seeing for matinee price.

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