All entries for Saturday 01 September 2007
September 01, 2007
Far from inspiring silly cultish beliefs that can be rubbished as mere selection bias, the number 23 really does have a vast and striking range of significant associations. For example, amidst the leafy suburbs of south County Dublin, the number of my parents’ house is 23. I was 23 when I applied to Warwick’s graduate programme. Coincidentally, I’d give this film 23 marks out of 100. Further still, I can think of at least 23 better things you could do with your time than watch this nonsense. Weird, huh?
Jim Carrey leapt to fame – ruining my childhood meantimes – in a series of low-brow and highly successful comedies; The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy, Ace Ventura. However, Carrey surprised and impressed with his versatility when he demonstrated his ability to cross over into more intelligent comedy-dramas such as The Truman Show, which won Carrey a number of awards if not an Oscar, and Man on the Moon, in which he accepted millions of dollars to kiss Courtney Love. I suppose it’s a further demonstration of Carrey’s desire to exhibit his belief that he is a Man of Many Talents that he elected to make a supernatural thriller.
But Carrey’s real-life past haunts him, as it were, throughout The Number 23, which seems unable to decide which Jim Carrey it wants to sell us. He’s introduced as Walter Sparrow (no relation to Jack) with an air of ironic humour and it’s unconvincing when, subsequently, he tries his hand at being Troubled and Harrowed. This is symptomatic of the whole film’s weakness. As he reads a novel with uncanny relevance to reality, the number 23 theme obsesses Walter Sparrow immediately, to the distress of his wife (Virginia Madsen), but the idea isn’t developed; no higher, oracular significance is attached to the number’s recurrence. Instead we’re given a number of glossy scenes from the novel shot in slick Sin City-vision amidst Sparrow’s slow-paced detective work. Overall it’s a mess, an interesting prospect gone awry; inchoate, meandering, tedious.