The Number 23 (2007)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Number 23</strong> (2007)

(On Cable TV, May 2012) Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Jim Carrey is still primarily perceived as a comedian, and part of the appeal of psychological thriller The Number 23 is seeing him headline a fairly grim tale of obsession and death.  As an ordinary guy suddenly fascinated by a book explaining the numerological intricacies of the number 23, Carrey does well –especially when the film take a meta-fictional bent and start presenting both the character’s reality and the heightened fiction that he reads.  The Number 23 is never more enjoyable than when it’s weird without explanations, going from reality to fiction to increasing paranoia.  When comes the moment for the movie to lay down its cards and tie everything together, you can hear the creaks of the tortured storytelling (in which characters do bizarre things for no better reason than to look suspicious later on), the disappointment of threads being tied up and the lousiest plot cheats come up again.  Still, the film feels underrated: Ably directed by Joel Shumacher, it has a potent visual kick, a strong directing style and some stylish cinematography.  Carrey is believable in the lead role (though not distinctive enough to be worth the rumored 23 million dollars he was paid for it), while Virginia Marsden and Danny Huston provide able supporting work.  The plotting certainly isn’t airtight (the boy’s age doesn’t match the chronology), but the film makes a compelling case for itself as a visual piece of work.  Shumacher may have burned out spectacularly after Batman & Robin, but he has since been turning in some interesting niche movies, from Tigerland to Trespass and now The Number 23.

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