As UK lockdown enters its second month, our season of feeling trapped continues with a taut modern thriller from the mind of one of our most discussed directors.
Following the many challenges involved in directing Fight Club, Panic Room was supposed to be a relatively straightforward project for David Fincher. However, the logistics of essentially creating a bottle movie on a blockbuster budget turned out to be equally daunting in their own way.
The first crisis occurred when intended star Nicole Kidman suffered a leg injury and was forced to drop out of the project. When Jodie Foster was brought in as a last-minute replacement, the tone of the movie was altered significantly around her established screen persona, making her character grittier and more resourceful.
We’ll never know what the Kidman version of Panic Room would have looked like, but the role suits Foster like a glove, and she brings the same air of intelligence and calculation to Meg Altman as she did to Clarice Starling a decade earlier.
The trio of antagonists are also perfectly pitched – Forest Whittaker is on unusually restrained form as a conflicted security expert turned home invader, Country star Dwight Yoakam nails the banal evil of the psychotic (and back-story-free) Raoul and Jared Leto makes a compelling case that he should be cast as the broad comic relief more often.
Essentially a skilfully made B-movie, Panic Room surpassed expectations at the box office and set Foster on a new chapter of her career headlining hard-bitten thrillers such as Flight Plan and The Brave One, while Fincher went on to earn Oscar respectability with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. The film was also a major breakthrough for a very young Kristen Stewart, who impressively held her own as Foster’s resourceful ten-year-old daughter.
All in all, we had a lot more fun revisiting this one than we expected. Tune into this week’s episode to hear all our thoughts, plus regular features including drinking games, listener submissions and sequel pitches…
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Next time, we’ll be continuing our theme with a tearjerking recent Oscar darling that’s sure to push our snark powers to the limit. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy and happy listening!