Tarsem Singh’s The Cell- A review by Nate Hill

Tarsem Singh’s The Cell is the kind of revelatory, mind blowing, breathtaking, once in a decade kind of fantasy film that is utterly unique, truly memorable and pure artistic creation. Singh utilizes so many visual elements and ideas that you get the notion that you are truly immersed in a human being’s subconscious inner realm, and not merely watching a film. It’s transcendent. Jennifer Lopez, in a performance of great empathy and serious emotional depth, plays a child psychologist who uses futuristic technology to literally enter the dreams of comatose patients and attempt to heal them. When a seriously disturbed killer (the monumentally talented Vincent D’Onofrio) enters a coma before the FBI can find his latest victim, she is hired to enter his mind to find out the location. A scary setup indeed. The first plunge into his mind is set up with a dread inducing soundtrack cue, and a sudden, Topsy turvy whirlwind of surreal images, sounds and stimuli which are truly eerie and intangible. The art direction, special effects and design of the spirit realm she ventures into are just something you don’t see in many films, because most people are afraid to think about that kind of raw, uninhibited subconscious content. Not Singh. He willingly explores the dark, mysterious side of the human mind and soul, with a complexity and understanding that is all to rare. For folks who find that too much surreal imagery and soul disturbing content makes them uneasy (hell, I’M one of those folks) those aspects are balanced out by the clean cut, very grounded in earth time plot line of Vaughn’s team helping him out from ‘earthside’, a standard cops vs. killer mentality to even out the strangeness. They even have a guy from CSI playing one of the cops. Vince Vaughn feels slightly miscast as the head fed, but James Gammon, Dean Norris, Dylan Baker, Marianne Jean Baptiste, Patrick Bachau and Musetta Vander all give stellar support. If you have a strong stomach (this film gets pretty brutal in ways you can’t imagine), and a wandering, artistically abstract mind for all things surreal and dreamy, definitely check this out.

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