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Sexy, stylish thriller only blowing smoke

Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) gets raunchy with the inner, evil Carl Stagher (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) gets raunchy with the inner, evil Carl Stagher (Vincent D’Onofrio).

People find sexual gratification in strange places. Some find it in a set of fuzzy handcuffs. Others find it in a pair of crotchless panties. And then there are those that find it suspended fifteen feet off the ground, hovering naked over a bleached corpse with metal rings pierced through their flesh connected to chains that hang from the ceiling.

In The Cell we take a look into the mind of exactly this kind of person. Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn lead the way in this surrealistic thriller by first time film director Tarsem. Vaughn plays a burnt out but dedicated FBI agent, hot on the trail of the extremely disturbed Carl Stagher (Vincent D’Onofrio). Unfortunately, Stagher is catatonic when they find him and its up to experimental child psychologist Catherine Deane (Lopez) to enter his mind with the help of pseudo-Hollywood science and discover where his final victim is trapped.

The plot is ludicrous, but it doesn’t matter as the beauty lies in the aesthetics rather than the storytelling. Director Tarsem has previously filmed award-winning commercials and music videos, including REM’s “Losing My Religion.” Visually, The Cell feels like a music video at times, and the incredible art direction helps to create an exquisite display of costumes, sets and graphics.

Lopez looks good but delivers a lukewarm performance. A completely irrelevant scene where she puffs a doob is evidence that she’s been hanging out with Puffy more.

There is some intense gore as well as some decidedly disturbing behaviour while Vincent D’Onofrio does his best crazy man since Gomer Pile. Its worth watching in the theatres to get the full effect of the extravagant imagery and intense soundtrack.

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