The Number 23
reviewed by Andrew James
The Number 23 is a look into the world of a paranoid man who is slowly letting the paranoia drive him insane. The source of this paranoia is a book purchased for him by his wife (played by Madsen). The book is the story of a private detective who is also slowly driven insane by the number 23. Walter (Carrey) finds several eerie connections between himself and the main character in the book. The story in the book is delivered to us by surreal sequences in which Carrey and Madsen (as well as other characters in the main story) play the leads. Here is where Carrey really delivers his creepy, indeed chilling, side.
What really worked for me was the interesting directing style Schumacher has emplyed here. It is very atypical of him and somethign I was shocked to see. He's obviously hired a different kind of cinematographer to create some very artsy and surreal looking imagery. There's use of overexposure, dark, mysterious angles and almost the look of a painting in several shots. In short, pretty much the entire feature is nice to look at.
It takes FOREVER to get anywhere in this movie. Once something is revealed, Schumacher takes about 10 to 20 minutes explaining it all bit by bit. Though it looks interesting and cool, it's unnecessary and tedious. I kept thinking to myself, "OK, I got it, now let's move on with the story." Then there would be several more minutes of unnecessary exposition.
Maybe it's because I was tired or had my mind on other things (like Sunday night's Oscars), but my guard was let down and I honestly didn't see the end coming. I had visions of a stupid, cop-out ending that would make this whole movie fail miserably; but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I've since read that others felt the whole thing was obvious and telegraphed, but I didn't find it to be that at all (nor did the people I viewed the film with).
To break it down, it's a longer than necessary film that holds plenty of interest throughout. It's got some dialogue and scripting issues, but fans of a unique, bordering on overplay, style of cinematography film be delighted. Also, anyone remotely interested in Jim Carrey would do well to see what he can do in a dramatic, dark role. I have to admit it was a lot of fun to watch him work and see what he came up with. Although it's not perfect, it's above average fare for this time of year.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for The Number 23