"Sadomasochism Made Beautiful"
What You Need To Know:
When he’s not focusing on the killer’s perverted eccentricities, Tarsem’s visuals can be quite beautiful. They may remind many people of movies by Fellini and Kubrick. In fact, one scene’s visuals are reminiscent of the light show in Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. In order to experience this beauty, however, viewers must subject themselves to an array of disturbing, often bloody, sadomasochistic images, such as an actual disembowelment, a corpse sitting in a tub filled with blood and women being drowned in a locked cell. Accompanying this sick milieu is a scene where a symbolic Virgin Mary figure stabs someone
(PaPa, C, AbAb, LLL, VVV, SSS, NN, DD, MM) Hindu pagan worldview plus images evoking the Virgin Mary, but done with a Hindu/Maryology panache, plus anti-Christian perversion of baptism ceremony & woman victim recites Lord’s Prayer; 26 obscenities & 10 profanities; extremely violent images, including scenes of women drowning while imprisoned in glass cell filling with water, man disemboweled during torture scene, brief picture from Middle Ages of man being disemboweled, huge guillotine contraption slices horse into sections but with little blood, images of bleached & naked female corpses, bloody stabbings, corpse sits in bathtub filled with blood in blood-spattered room, woman uses sword against villain as if she’s killing a vampire, child abuse, & woman drowns little boy in dream world; sadomasochism strongly depicted & implied, implied necrophilia & male sexual function briefly mentioned; upper male & female nudity & rear nudity; no alcohol use; smoking, marijuana & heroine uses & use of drugs in a clinical setting; and, kidnapping & euthanasia.
In THE CELL, an award-winning music video director applies his talent for elaborate visual imagery to the serial killer genre. Directed by Tarsem Singh, the movie stars Jennifer Lopez as an empathetic psychologist asked to go inside the virtual mind of a comatose serial killer. Vince Vaughn plays the FBI agent who enlists the psychologist’s help so he can find where the killer has stashed his current victim, who is probably still alive. The killer’s mind proves to be such a dynamic one that the psychologist begins to lose herself in it, confusing fantasy with reality. The FBI agent has to pull her out of it.
When he’s not focusing on the killer’s perverted eccentricities, Tarsem’s visuals can be quite beautiful. They may remind many people of movies by Fellini and Kubrick. In fact, when the FBI agent enters the killer’s mind, the visuals are very reminiscent of the fantastic light show in Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. In order to experience this beauty, however, viewers must subject themselves to an array of disturbing, often bloody, images, such as an actual disembowelment, a corpse sitting in a tub filled with blood and women being drowned in a locked cell with windows. Accompanying this sick sadomaschism is a scene where a symbolic Virgin Mary figure stabs someone and commits euthanasia. Some of the images in these scenes also seem to reflect the Hindu culture of Tarsem’s native India. Hinduism, of course, is a perversion of the truth about God and human nature. Even an anti-Christian bigot like Joseph Campbell, author of THE MASKS OF GOD and THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, was upset by how Hinduism in India supports a rigid caste system to violate Western ideals of individual human freedom, individual human worth and individual human responsibility.
Thus, THE CELL presents new fodder for those people who are getting more and more upset about the degrading subject matter and twisted content of what passes for cinema in Hollywood these days. Too many of its images seem to become a celebration of sadomasochistic fantasies, rather than a revulsion. Imagine, however, what the director could do if he applied his talent to the cause of Jesus Christ. Imagine what Hollywood could do! After God delivers him from confusion and renews his mind, of course.
In conclusion, when stripped of its bravado images, THE CELL is just another rather mundane thriller about a sadomasochistic serial killer. The psychological explanations for the killer’s madness are shallow and obscure. One of them even relies on dredging up a traumatic incident during the killer’s baptism ceremony when he was a child. Thus, water symbolism is a major element in the movie. This becomes a trite motif with an anti-Christian flavor. Finally, since most of the danger in the movie takes place only in the minds of the killer and the female psychologist, THE CELL lacks true suspense because the jeopardy to the heroes is not really tangible. All of this proves that fancy images cannot save a movie if it lacks a proper sense of what it takes to tell a captivating story with fully developed characters.