by Laurent Kelly
Cube (1997) – Director: Vincenzo Natali Screenplay: Vincenzo Natali, Andre Bijelic, Graeme Manson Starring: David Hewlett, Nicole De Boer, Nicky Gaudagni, Andrew Miller, Maurice Dean Wint OSCAR COUNT (0)
Vincenzo Natali’s film presents us with seven strangers who have been locked in a complex, cube structure. They have no idea how they got there and neither do the audience. Rather than relying on the usual generic doses of flashbacks, voice-overs and elaborate plot reveals Cube takes the rare and unhollywood minimal approach by keeping the audience guessing throughout. The genius of this approach is that it gives the power to the viewer who are able to interpret the film as they see fit. Is for example the Cube the gateway between heaven and hell? Is the entire film a metaphor for the meaning of life where we try and find answers but never truly know what we are looking for? Or perhaps everything is taking place inside the mind of a stressed, schizophrenic mind? The film doesn’t pose these questions but through its development of character behaviour we see signs that lend weight to these various theories and it makes for an engrossing, intriguing and unpredictable journey throughout.
Cube is also an excellent film about the nature of character under pressure and how easily prone humans are to violence and aggression when things aren’t going their way. In expert fashion we see that when people are trapped in the wild so to speak that some are no less vicious than the creatures which inhibit the animal kingdom. Indeed in one truly disturbing act of evil we see the fragile nature of morality when humans are placed in a situation where there are no longer any rules to follow.
The visuals in Cube are not the most versatile and if the film has a flaw then I think it is that more imagination could have gone into each room that the film presents. Obviously however this would threaten to turn the film into a gimmick much like a bigger budget did for the film’s sequel Hypercube and in a way the stagier impact of Cube’s set does have a certain, visually arresting charm.
Overall, however this Canadian film deserves great credit for having the balls to remain so enigmatic in a medium that so often neglects the intelligent capabilities of its audience.
DID YOU KNOW? The film was shot in just one room which was made to look like many different rooms through the use of colour panelling.