Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2009. Warner Bros., Radar Pictures, Media Rights Capital, Darko Entertainment, Lin Pictures. Screenplay by Richard Kelly, based on the short story Button, Button by Richard Matheson. Cinematography by Steven Poster. Produced by Richard Kelly, Dan Lin, Sean McKittrick. Music by Win Butler, Regina Chassagne, Owen Pallett. Production Design by Alec Hammond. Costume Design by April Ferry. Film Editing by Sam Bauer.
It’s mid-70s Virginia, and married couple Cameron Diaz and James Marsden have just received a strange package on their doorstep: an unassuming box with nothing but a button to push. Diaz receives a visit the next day from Frank Langella, whose face is creepily half-missing, and told that if she pushes the button on the box, she will get a million dollars but someone she does not know will die. The conundrum is truly damaging, but not nearly as disheartening as sitting through this film all the way to the end. What begins as a moody, involving thriller with a complex moral crisis at its centre (the couple are in dire financial straits and could really use the money) turns into a hokey Hollywood thriller with ridiculous plot turns and an unsatisfying climax. The actors do as good a job with the material as they can, and the cinematography and music score (by members of Arcade Fire) are excellent, but what you thought was going to be Lynch-worthy offspring (or even just a follower of Kelly’s previous film Donnie Darko) dwindles into a bad remake of The Forgotten.