The Caller is a film starring Frank Langella and Elliott Gould. It is a tense thriller about corporate foul play and voyeurism, wait, what year is it? With the recent critical acclaim of Langella, it seems only fitting to market his name on a low-budget film. Unfortunately for the film, Langella’s performance is one of the only shining moments. Langella plays an aging VP of an energy company that decides to blow the whistle on the corporate wrong doings that are going on. Understanding that he’s written his own death certificate, Langella hires a private investigator (Gould) to follow him to help catch his eventual killer.
The film begins with a well shot flashback scene that moves into a poorly paced airport scene. Pacing is a frequent problem throughout this film. There are numerous times in the film that tension is built with a great score and good shot selection and then the mood is shattered with a dissolve or a slow motion tracking shot. This distracts from the tone of the film, which is really unfortunate. The film is shot on location in New York, which gives the film some credibility. The use of New York City hotspots (i.e. Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Empire State building) almost act as other characters throughout the film. The baggage that these locations bring to the film can implicate the intentions of the director, which seem muddled to begin with. Viewers are overwhelmed with full framed shots of the New York City skyline and in one instance (during a particularly tense scene) there is a flash to a “Remember 9/11” bumper sticker.
The chemistry of Frank Langella and Elliot Gould is remarkable. Their timing, speech and performances are solid throughout and make the film tolerable. Their first encounter in the park is very well shot. When they just begin to engage with one another the camera pulls far away. Viewers are now the voyeurs on their meeting, which is an interesting role reversal. Alas, the film does not allow the viewer care about either character. The director attempts to engage the viewer’s emotions with the flashback scenes. However, they occur too seldom for there to be any emotional significance. So when the climax does arrive, the audience’s jaws should drop. Unfortunately, that did not happen to this reviewer.
The Caller is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The tone of the film is quite somber overall and there seems to be a grey scale cast over the frame. Whenever there is an outdoor shot the weather is overcast and dark. This is a reflection of the emotional state of the characters. The darks are superior to the few colors that appear throughout. The transfer has no grain or pixilation and the overall experience is a positive one.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The score is very pronounced throughout the film. There are long periods of no dialogue and the music during these periods is always very well mixed. The dialogue is clear and in the exterior shots the wind and climate can be very immersive. It was a surprising experience to say the least.
Theatrical Trailer and a production stills gallery.
The Caller does not take a stance on which character the audience should be drawn to. Ultimately, this results in viewers being disappointed with the ending. There are flashes of good filmmaking here. Sorry to say, the desired effect is lost with poor editing and pacing issues. Fank Langella and Elliott Gould make this film a decent effort.