August 31, 2000

Madam Matrix

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In attempting to fabricate a trippy, dreamlike stage like those we all talk about during long drives, the bedazzling special effects in The Cell definitely realizes what they set out to achieve. In the movie, Jennifer Lopez stars as expert psychotherapist Catharine Deane, employed by a laboratory that has recently developed a system in which a therapist can enter the subconscious mind and memory of comatose and psychologically impaired patients.

The enchanting first scene begins with Lopez riding on a horse through the gilded sand of a desert, walking around happily and then you finally realize that this is all taking place within the mind of one of her child patients.

Meanwhile, a serial killer who abducts, drowns, and bleaches women has recently been found, but the whereabouts of his latest victim is still unknown. Resorting to the psychotherapy lab’s newest system, FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn), works with Deane to explore and exploit the killer’s subconscious in order to locate his prey. As soon as Deane is beamed into the criminal mind of Carl Stargher, the audience is mauled with colors and shapes defining the possibilities and the strangeness of human imagination and subconscious.

In addition to owning a freaky, picturesque psyche, the character of Carl Stargher is a challenging undertaking in itself, but Vincent D’Onofrio carries it off with a distinct panache. Certainly an evil and menacing persona, but I would not go as far as to equate his presence to that of Hannibal Lector or the serial killer in Seven. D’Onofrio also played minor roles with the same name of “Bill Newman” in both JFK (1991) and Malcolm X (1992)