Panic Room - rated - SIMMERING

Don't panic, Jodie's in charge

Panic Room was a much better film than I'd hoped. This is due in a large part to the intelligence of Jodie Foster as an actor.

It begins very well indeed - with the most original titles I can remember since Once Were Warriors (1994, Lee Tamahori) and Seven (1995, David Fincher). They seem to be digitally inserted over the landscape of what looks like Chicago. But them we suddenly find ourselves in Manhattan, in a very ritzy neighborhood.

However, as the film developed, I found myself getting edgy about the many things which seemed like plotting errors. There seemed to be too many unlikely things that happened - such as the fact of the husband going over in person to investigate the break-in. Why call the police & then go yourself? Then there was the way Jody Foster's character let her daughter go into diabetic shock. Why did the police take ages to come? And why, after seeing her husband tortured, couldn't Jodie find a way to tell the police whole story? That was an amazing image, particularly in a Jodie Foster film - the image of the impotent husband and father, unable to protect his (estranged) family.

But then I realized that this was exactly what the director was doing -making you angry about things, and then explaining them. Hence there was a reason one of the burglars was so out-of-control angry.

However, I really think the film was spoiled by including the last scene. It is there only to mollify the audience - to let them leave the theatre relaxed. But the film would be so much more powerful if that scene were left out, and the image that you are left with is Forest Whitaker's face, followed by Jodie Foster's. His face & hers. What will become of him? Now that's a question.

© Michèle M Asprey 2002

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