On his birthday, Walter Sparrow, an amiable dog-catcher, takes a call that leaves him dog bit and late to pick up his wife. She's browsed in a bookstore, finding a blood-red-covered novel, a murder mystery with numerology that loops constantly around the number 23. The story captivates Walter: he dreams it, he notices aspects of his life that can be rendered by "23," he searches for the author, he stays in the hotel (in room 23) where events in the novel took place, and he begins to believe it was no novel. His wife and son try to help him, sometimes in sympathy, sometimes to protect him. Slowly, with danger to himself and to his family, he closes in on the truth.Written by
The Number 23 is directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Fernley Phillips. It stars Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins and Rhona Mitra. Music is by Harry Gregson-Williams and cinematography by Matthew Libatique.
Walter Sparrow (Carrey) becomes obsessed with a novel that he comes to believe is written about him. As his obsession increases and the number 23 comes into play, the similarities arise and danger lurks at every corner.
Topsy Kretts at A Novel Fate.
A tough film to recommend with confidence, as the most divisive critical notices would suggest, The Number 23 is for some a genuinely intriguing movie with style to burn. The complex narrative structure, visual styles, gumshoe type narration and nods to classic era noir movies, certainly makes this more of interest to noir fans than your average horror/thriller seeker. The premise of the 23 enigma is quite a hook, especially for the conspiracy theorists out there, while the blending of paranoia and distortion of reality really puts a bleakness over the plotting to keep it edgy. Unfortunately much of it doesn't hold up under scrutiny, big leaps of faith are needed and the finale fizzles out in a whimper. But mostly it's thought provoking for the right reasons.
Visually it's a most arresting piece. The present world inhabited by Walter and his family is filled with bold reds and greens, while his flashback world, where he is detective Fingerling, is full of oblique decor, high contrast lighting and skewed angles. Carrey came in for some criticism, but he sits the role(s) well, especially as Walter's mind starts to fracture. Everyone else is up to scratch with par performances, while Williams provides a score that mixes eerie foreboding with the rumbles of psychological unease. There's much strange about the whole production, a sort of trippy/feverish dream where the editing jolts you out of the comfort zone and begs you to be involved in solving the mystery of The Number 23.
Not for everyone, obviously, and it asks a lot of forgiveness for its faults. Yet there is a better film here than I was led to believe it was. Perhaps for you as well? 7/10
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