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Note: This week's scheduled focus on Ed Solomon's Levity has been postponed because the film's release has been pushed back to April 26th.

Phone Booth becomes a confessional


Last week, Film Forum focused on the new Joel Schumacher film Phone Booth. The thriller's simple, suspenseful plot places Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell), a self-centered Manhattan publicist, in a phone booth at a busy intersection where a sniper (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) holds him as a long-distance hostage. From an unknown hiding place in one of the countless skyscraper windows around him, the villain gives Stu orders over the phone, forcing him to appear as a deranged and murderous gunman (false) and reveal himself as an unfaithful husband (nearly true.)

Religious press critics differ on whether the film is a significant morality play or merely sensationalized suspense. Some are impressed by the story's strong moral lesson, but others find it rather distastefully delivered.

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says it "has a message which can be easily traced back to the scriptures. Stu is being forced to recognize a spiritual reality that will eventually face us all."

David Bruce (Hollywood Jesus) raves, "Not since Daredevil has there been a film with so much spiritual symbolism in it. The phone booth … serves as a confessional. The sniper being perched high up in a skyscraper is very godlike. This is a story about judgment, confession, and redemption. The sniper wants Stu to call his wife and confess his unfaithfulness—doing penance." Bruce then highlights a symbolically Christ-like progression, a death and resurrection of sorts, and he concludes, "Could any film be more dead-on with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?"

Bob Smithouser (Focus on the ...

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April 2003

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