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Number 23, The

7/10

Stars: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Danny Huston, Rhona Mitra, Lynn Collins, Mark Pellegrino, Ed Lauter

Director: Joel Schumacher

I lost several Oscar bets (sentiment, not sentience, gave Scorsese the Oscar Eastwood deserved) but one bet I would have won was that Schumacher couldnít make a worse film than his execrable The Phantom of the Opera. And he hasnít.

His stylish direction creates a bizarrely compelling world of paranoia and mystery, compensating for the frequently hard to follow byways of Fernley Phillipsí convoluted screenplay, which finds dog-catcher Carrey losing it as he becomes obsessed with the number 23, after being given the bizarre eponymously-titled typewritten novel by his wife Madsen.

Carrey starts identifying with the bookís fictional shamus and plays him in the parallel dramatisation of the novel as he seeks to bring a killer to book: itís a seriously strange story that gets stranger by the minute but it gripped me right up to the surprise ending.

Carrey plays it straight to considerable effect. True, logic isnít its strong point, but if movies depended on logic (why, for instance, do teenagers venture into unlit basements when there are mad murderers on the loose?) there would be precious few new films. Iím not sure I got it right first time around but I really look forward to seeing it again.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour by De Luxe.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 26 Feb 2007