When you see Jodie Foster in a movie's cast, you know you're gonna be in for a treat. Whether or not the script and narrative is a good one is irrelevant to her performance, which is sure to be stellar no matter where the chips may fall. Fortunately, with David Fincher's Panic Room, she's given a lot of meat to sink her teeth into.
It's been an interesting week so far, looking back at Fincher's work as a director over the past few decades. He's certainly a talent behind the camera, with an eye for detail and the ability to reach right through the screen, grab the audience by the throat and refuse to let go until the credits of his work roll.
That's exactly the feeling I had the first time I watched Panic Room. The sense of dread and paranoia that seeps through the characters and embeds itself within the viewers is something I've only seen replicated in a handful of other thrillers/horrors, such as the lush-house settings of the original The Purge movie, and the recent Halloween sequel.
Foster is focused as Meg Altman throughout, unwilling to let herself and her daughter Sarah (Stewart) fall victim to the trio of intruders that are unrelenting in their bid to force them out of the home's panic room. She's believable at every instance, and a woman you can immediately will on to succeed.
As is often the case with Fincher's work, a string of twists and unlikely turns keep you guessing throughout. The director is a man who never really wants the audience to know what's coming up next, but his style of filmmaking is so on point that you never feel tricked or stupid when watching; rather you're thankful for the out-of-the-blue blows to the narrative.
It would be unfair to say this is Stewart's defining role, but it is certainly the one that helped catapult her into the spotlight so early on in her career. She may be just 12-years-old at the time of Panic Room's release (and so actually just 11 when she filmed), but Stewart comes across as a seasoned veteran and shares incredible chemistry with Bullock.
What is apparent when looking back at Panic Room is that it is ahead of its time. It's a feminist movie in every sense, showcasing strong and powerful females who refuse to give up or give in during the most challenging few hours of their life. They may be vulnerable, but Meg and Sarah Altman prove that they don't need a masculine force in order to survive.
Psychologically torturous and packed full of suspense, Panic Room is one of those movies I'll be returning to for years to come. It doesn't just set the bar for the genre; it is the bar.
tagged in David Fincher