The Number 23
Years ago one of my friends said he wanted to talk to me after I saw this movie so that we could discuss what the hell the movie was about. I’m pretty sure I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I would never ever know. I don’t think I would’ve known when he asked me, and I sure as fuck don’t know now.
I mean I can kind of tell you the story, dude has change in life, dude begins to have an obsession, dude loses mind, dude loses reality, and then as the movie ends we all of us lose our sense of hope that there will be some kind of resolution.
This film seems to maybe be about the 23 enigma. But sometimes the movie also seems to maybe be about how expectation and reality and memory and destiny can all become the same thing if you stare at something long enough. Parts of the movie are freaking gorgeous. When we spend time with Jim Carrey as he reads the book “The Number 23” and we see several scenes from the book sparkle and explode with color and imagination, the movie is fascinating. I kept thinking to myself that the actual book would make an amazing graphic novel.
But we don’t get to live in the super color rich vision of the book. We watch the movie and live in the dull, drab, painfully muted world that is just desperate to get us back to the book with a mystery that is the least mysterious mystery to even think about. As the movie bounces back and forth between the reality we are first introduced to in the film, and the reality that comes from the book, there are moments where it doesn’t matter what comes next in the story, what matters is just the perception of what comes next in the story.
With the concept of the 23 enigma there is that idea that if you go looking for proof you will find proof, even if it is absolutely not proof in any way shape or form. When you want to find the number 23 as it relates to disasters and mysteries, you will find the number 23 because your mind will slide over all the numbers that don’t add up.
I guess in some way this might be what they were trying to do with this picture. As the main character becomes more and more invested in the idea that the novel he is reading is about him and his life, the more and more invested we become as an audience that there are correlations and that his madness may have a purpose. That may have been the point, but it comes off as more of an afterthought to what we actually do see on the screen. Not everything means something and very little of the everything we do watch comes off as more than just a weird kind of coincidence. But if I could get a graphic novel version of the book that is inside the story, I think that would probably be pretty sweet.