Frank Langella as Arlington Steward (left) and Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as Norma and Arthur Lewis in <em>The Box</em>.

Frank Langella as Arlington Steward (left) and Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as Norma and Arthur Lewis in The Box.

The Box

Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella star in a film written by Richard Kelly and Richard Matheson and directed by Kelly.

Richard Kelly hasn’t reclaimed his cult status here. This is no Donnie Darko, though it’s infinitely more appealing than his misbegotten, cryptic, apocalyptic Southland Tales. Occasional glimpses of genius do occur here: A Santa Claus rings a bell in the middle of an empty midnight street or a giant wind tunnel, suggesting the sci-fi workings of cinema guru of David Lynch. Kelly fills the screen with square and circle motifs, and in case you miss their significance, Frank Langella spells it out for you-we live in boxes, ride around in boxes, spend our days watching a box, and end up lying in a box for eternity.

Occasionally witty, The Box is ultimately full of junk. A remake of a 1985 Richard Matheson Twilight Zone script, Kelly’s Box slowly builds thematic half-ideas about paranoia and choice, then bridges into an almost laughable Martian psychic story so strained you can only hope it’s some kind of profound metaphor. And then he squibs out and the events dribble into a meaningless debacle. The number of loose ends here far exceeds palpability.

If you must see it, be prepared for the worst, but also get ready to enjoy the chemistry between Cameron Diaz and the surprisingly spooked and spooky James Marsden, whose earlier work in movies like Enchanted and X-Men had a comic-book edge. Here he plays with a real, anguished sincerity. Too bad Richard Kelly can’t control the same authentic burn for his own very promising film.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Santa Barbara Surfer Chris Brown Dies

Body found just east of Hendry’s Beach.

Damaged Bridge Repairs Delayed

March, June, and July given as possible completion dates by Caltrans for six bridges along the 192 ...

Natural History Museum Begins Vertebrate Preservation Project

The project will move 45,000 specimens into bug-proof conservation boxes.

Santa Barbara Joins in on 2019 Women’s March

Santa Barbara participates in annual national Women’s March on Saturday.

Federal Workers Get Utility Bill Break from Lompoc

City decides to extend utility due dates for federal employees during government shutdown.