About the film
The Box is a psychological thriller film which was released in 2009. The film was based on the 1970 short story "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson. The Box is rated 12A due to thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images and the film has a run time of 115 minutes.
In a suburban town, Norma and Arthur Lewis live with their son Walter. One day, they receive a plain wooden box without any idea who it came from. Later, a stranger arrives and explains that if they choose to press the button inside the box, they will receive the massive sum of $1 million. However, should they press the button then someone, somewhere will die but this won't be anyone that they know. The couple only have 24 hours to decide which opens up a whole range of moral dilemmas which question the true nature of their humanity.
What I thought
Being a big fan of Cameron Diaz, The Box has been on my wish list for quite some time. I didn't really know much about the film but it looked different and quite exciting so it caught my interest.
When I began watching The Box, everything made sense. Norma and Lewis are a struggling couple who, after a couple of bad situations, are a bit strapped for cash. When the strange box appears at their home I could understand the confusion and worry about whether or not they should press the button inside. At this point, I couldn't understand what would possibly happen if they did decide to push the button and someone would quite randomly die. The plot was pretty simple up to this point and quite easy to follow as everything surrounded the decision about the button. However, after only about 40 minutes or so, I had completely lost track of what was going on in this film.
Cameron Diaz is one of my favourite actresses but here, she fell a little flat for me. While her emotions concerning pressing the button came across as real and convincing, the plot let her down immensely. After things in the film started to get slightly strange, the things that I liked about her character, Norma, just disappeared. To begin with, she was a worried and concerned character who obviously was torn about what she was doing. However, later in the film these things slowly disappeared and I just ended up not caring about what happened to her in the end.
James Marsden is a slightly different story. Arthur is a struggling family man who wants to do better by his wife and son but also do better for himself. I loved how driven he was and he definitely showed a lot more emotion than Diaz as Norma. Marsden's emotional portrayal of Arthur continues throughout the film and I could really feel exactly what he was feeling. The harsh repercussions of certain actions take a massive toll on Arthur and this was so clear to see from Marsden's performance. I really hate to say that he was better than Diaz but he was, by far.
I wish I had known that this was taken from a short story that was used for an episode of The Twilight Zone before watching as I think things would have made a lot more sense. Now, knowing these things, I can understand why particular things happened in the film. I think the back of the DVD and the synopsis are quite misleading when it comes to what this film is actually about. Yes, it is a psychological thriller but there is also so much more to it than that. Also, this is a film that you really have to pay attention to otherwise you will quickly lose track of the plot and be as confused as I was.
While this is a good film, it wasn't what I was expecting and it is really confusing to watch.