The Panic Room

Rated NR

Jodie Foster actually used to be a really good actress, prior to catching that horrible disease that makes Hollywood stars do broad, embarrassingly stagy interpretations of mentally retarded people. With Panic Room she manages to mostly reign in the twitchy overacting that has caused her work to be acclaimed as "grueling" and "unwatchable." Director David Fincher, who made Fight Club, easily one of the best freaking movies ever made, no matter what everyone else says, keeps the plot of Panic Room nice and simple: A woman and her daughter are trapped in a "safe room" while three thieves ransack their house. What elevates Panic Room above the level of a well-executed thriller is the incredible camera work. The cinematography by Darius Khondji and Conrad W. Hall is reminiscent of the work Gregg Toland did on Citizen Kane, in that it explores the limits of what is possible with modern camerawork. Tracking shots zoom through the handles of coffee pots, peer into keyholes, track up through concrete floors and fly out of air vents. Even if this movie were about nothing the technical artistry of the visuals would make it worth watching.

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