The Thing I Like About …

Phonebooth: when he starts telling the truth.

In Phonebooth, publicist Stu Shepard finds himself trapped in a phone booth, at the mercy of a man who has called the pay phone and is willing to kill passersby if Stu doesn’t do exactly what he tells him to do. The caller (who has a rifle and has already killed someone in a way that frames Stu) is somewhere close by, but Stu can’t see him. Stu is helpless to do anything except stay on the line, and listen to a stranger tell him that he can go as soon as he’s learned his lesson and told the truth.

Eventually, Stu’s wife, the client he has a crush on, his work-intern, and what seems to be the entire constabulary of the city are gathered around this phone booth, trying to talk Stu down (because they all still believe that he’s the shooter). The caller threatens both Stu’s wife and his pretty client, forcing Stu finally to make a choice – tell the truth, or these women pay the price.

Stu leans out of the phone booth, and tells the truth.

He tells his wife the truth about the client. He tells his client the truth about his marriage and his motives. He tells his intern the truth about being a publicist. He tells the truth about his suits. He tells the truth about his fears and shortcomings. He tells the truth about his soul.

It isn’t just that this is a powerful moment in the film; it’s that so many of us have been there (usually without the deranged caller taking potshots at our loved ones). We’ve all been asked to face the truth about ourselves, and all too often we’ve continued our façades, our half-truths, our face-saving maneuvers … protecting our pride at the expense of our relationships and our own happiness. But underneath it all, we know the truth. No matter how far down we bury the truth, we all know ourselves. We all know.

When Stu tells his truth, it sets him free, rather literally. Maybe if we can be as brave, we can be free too.

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