Phone Booth
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Twentieth Century Fox, a Joel Schumacher film.Rated R. 2002.

Warning -- this Rated R film has all the profanity and situations that one might expect in some of the worst New York City neighborhoods. It pits a young man named Stu (Colin Farrell) against an enemy that he only knows as a voice over a telephone. The drama starts in a phone booth but expands to a crowd of witnesses and a television audience.

Stu's sins are probably typical of any man or woman. He is self-centered and tries to get people to think more highly of him than he deserves by lying to everybody he meets, starting with his wife (Radha Mitchell). He desperately tries to keep his self respect, but his tormentor strips everything away as the film progresses, forcing him to make a final confession that reduces him to nothing.

One has to compare this film with the R-Rated Seven, which is also about sin. But that film portrays two different approaches to dealing with the sins that are acted out all around us. Phone Booth examines the sins of only one man as he faces a sniper -- a sniper who has already killed a list of other sinners in a similar way, and seems to have no regrets about adding Stu to his list.

Believers watching Phone Booth might consider reading Augustine's Confessions before viewing the film. Augustine not only lists his sins, but analyzes them exhaustively. Of course Augustine is writing as a Christian, but can one really separate any treatment of sin apart from God?

Of course one can't but enjoy the outstanding acting of Colin Farrell and Forest Whitaker, the cop who figures out what is going on and how to stop it. But the high point is the confession itself -- one that goes much deeper than most Christian confessions before God. Perhaps the film's best message is to the Christian community, demonstrating what a true confession is really like.

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