• David Fincher’s films do not have stylistic highlights or stand out compositions so much as they are wholly dipped in his trademark lighting design and coloring pattern. It starts with the green tint of the buildings during the opening credits. There is the green Mayflower truck (not a coincidence) and the details do not let up for the entire running time– the dedication to the visual consistency of Fincher’s world pervades throughout.

close-ups with lingering shadows behind in Fincher’s Panic Room

do not even try to watch a Fincher film during the day or with lights on in your home– each image is consistent, part of a whole

  • Apparently, Fincher wanted a sort of leaner exercise of a film after the more ambitious Fight Club before in 1999.
  • A solid, ominous score from Howard Shore – more like his work with Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers) than The Lord of the Rings.
  • The great director of photography Darius Khondji (Se7ven, The Immigrant, Uncut Gems, The City of Lost Children) and Fincher had a fallout and they have not worked together since. He was replaced early in the filming by Conrad Hall’s son (also named Conrad Hall- who shot most of the film). Conrad Hall (father) won the cinematography Oscar in 2002 with Road to Perdition. Khondji has a semi-famous breakup with Haneke on Amour as well.
  • In the director’s commentary Fincher confirms the 100+ takes for one scene that he is known for.
  • Nicole Kidman was cast in the Meg Altman (Jodie Foster- very good here) role but had to drop. She has a quick cameo as Stephen Altman’s mistress on the phone. Kristen Stewart plays Jodie’s daughter, and the three intruders are fabulously played by Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam and Jared Leto back with Fincher after getting his face bashed-in in Fight Club.
  • Exteriors are shot in NYC, the interiors in Los Angeles—the gorgeous interiors are certainly a character in the film. Fincher’s stealth camera glides down through the floors, the walls, through keyholes, scaling the outside and whips around back into the bedroom in one remarkable simulated tracking shot. I think the one-location aspect of the premise, plus being in the thriller genre, combined with Fincher’s unrelenting precision – have to make you think of Hitchcock.

it is cliché, but clichés exist for a reason- the massive home is certainly a character in the film

Fincher’s design is beautiful, dogmatic, singular

  • It is disappointing that they lean on crutches like the main characters being claustrophobic and having diabetes.
  • The story is simple, but the execution is consistently grand- of the slow-motion sequence with Foster’s character going for her phone number the bed is laudable.
  • If it is isn’t the simulated tracking shot around the house to show the intruder’s arrival, the long take tour by the realtor, or the slow-motion sequence just mentioned—the highpoint of the film has to be either the composition of the 22 million in bearer bonds swirling in the wind (to a gob-smackingly beautiful lighting strategy) or the dolly zoom final shot of the Foster and Stewart character on the park bench.

ok I lied, in the opening I said no standout compositions

for the first time (but still we have a green bench) Fincher really breaks the lighting structure– but he does so with a stunner of a dolly zoom

  • Highly Recommend – back end of the top 10 of the year worthy