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The Phone Call2013

  • 4.1
Winner of the 2015 Academy Award® for Live Action Short Film. THE PHONE CALL follows Heather, (played by Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins), a shy lady who works at a helpline call centre. When she receives a phone call from a mystery man (played by Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent) she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.

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3 members like this review

Watching Sally Hawkins perform is a delicacy kin to eating a chocolate cordial. IMDb rightfully identifies her "apologetic and grateful presence" as the defining trait of her work. For the man who fancies himself sort of nice and sensitive and offbeat, she is the dream woman. Attentive and engaged, hanging on your every word, moved by your struggle, and incredibly beautiful in a subtle way that you might flatter yourself into thinking is perceptible only to you. Of course she's not some shrinking violet that the viewer himself must draw out of her shell; she's a beautiful movie star, and her ability to caress the male ego into believing that she is that shrinking violet is her greatest skill as an actress. But this is probably material for a different essay, and not for this review of The Phone Call.

Though Sally Hawkins' work is a masterclass, the movie around it is merely good. Though it's accomplished with acting of Olympic grace and precision, the immense flood of empathy Heather feels for Stanley doesn't exactly follow logically from the events of the plot as depicted. I don't quite buy that an employee at a suicide prevention hotline would be as uncontrollably moved as Heather is by the to-be-expected event of a call from a suicidal person. But it's excusable; it is very moving, and it's hard to think of a scenario better suited for Hawkins' pyrotechnic displays of selfless empathy. I cannot so easily think of a justification for the date night postscript in which Heather finds herself with her coworker. I think it's supposed to show that Heather is newly grateful (that word again) for the possibilities of love and life after her brush with death. But it mostly feels like a rote intrusion of bathos, something trite and unimaginative after so many gripping and authentic psychological fireworks.

Still, see this movie. There's just something about that woman.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (13)

483615.small
top reviewer

Watching Sally Hawkins perform is a delicacy kin to eating a chocolate cordial. IMDb rightfully identifies her "apologetic and grateful presence" as the defining trait of her work. For the man who fancies himself sort of nice and sensitive and offbeat, she is the dream woman. Attentive and engaged, hanging on your every word, moved by your struggle, and incredibly beautiful in a subtle way that you might flatter yourself into thinking is perceptible only to you. Of course she's not some shrinking violet that the viewer himself must draw out of her shell; she's a beautiful movie star, and her ability to caress the male ego into believing that she is that shrinking violet is her greatest skill as an actress. But this is probably material for a different essay, and not for this review of The Phone Call.

Though Sally Hawkins' work is a masterclass, the movie around it is merely good. Though it's accomplished with acting of Olympic grace and precision, the immense flood of empathy Heather feels for Stanley doesn't exactly follow logically from the events of the plot as depicted. I don't quite buy that an employee at a suicide prevention hotline would be as uncontrollably moved as Heather is by the to-be-expected event of a call from a suicidal person. But it's excusable; it is very moving, and it's hard to think of a scenario better suited for Hawkins' pyrotechnic displays of selfless empathy. I cannot so easily think of a justification for the date night postscript in which Heather finds herself with her coworker. I think it's supposed to show that Heather is newly grateful (that word again) for the possibilities of love and life after her brush with death. But it mostly feels like a rote intrusion of bathos, something trite and unimaginative after so many gripping and authentic psychological fireworks.

Still, see this movie. There's just something about that woman.

3 members like this review
0dc6d159bcd566a8dfbaf4a2800a27b1?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0012
top reviewer

Great short film. Excellent acting. Very haunting/moving. Yes, it packs a huge amount into 20 minutes and is an excellent reflection upon ageing and dying.

2e96eff8174b408fe68458c53c86b24b?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0025
top reviewer

Couldn't piece the story together. Male voice was hidden. Her voice concealed behind her fingers or the phone or the camera angle. When I can't read the lips, I cannot hear the story.

I'm giving this five stars for Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent. What acting. Jesus. Anyone who says making shorts is a pointless enterprise (and I make shorts and hear it all the time) needs to watch this.

Short succinct and very well acted. An excellent short feataure.

Sally Hawkins shines as usual. Excellent writing. Very moving.

Sally Hawkins is a revelation in this heartbreaking tribute to the lonely, empathetic answerers of calls on crisis response lines. You can feel the tension between her unconditional, non-judgmental support for the caller, and her desperation to suss out his location in time to save him from the pills he's already taken. The tag at the end seems to be misunderstood by some reviewers. Seems clear to me she is at the jazz club she talked about with the caller, and in spite of the immediate outcome of the call, she incorporated beauty and joy into her life based on that human interaction. It was her allowing Stanley's presence to be a gift in her life. And I find that magnificent.

I honestly have no idea why this is the #1 most watched film on Fandor rn. I can do cheesy and heartfelt, but this seemed to me to be just god awful in every respect.

Haunting and beautiful.

That's the way you make a movie. Tell it like real life. Use great actors. Keep the audience mesmerized. Brilliant idea for a movie. So sad but so well done.

Poignant and superbly acted

Simply done and very moving.

The time flies by.

Well done: holds your attention; clever ending that make you think.