La cabina (1972). Have you ever heard of this movie? Chances are, for the most part of the moviegoers, the answer will be certainly negative. First, La cabina is a television movie. Second, it is a Spanish movie and it has not been on air in many countries. Third, it has been released back in 1972 when no Internet or other fast spreading way of communication has been available. I don't think there is an official DVD or Blu-ray release either. To be honest, probably, you best bet is to track down the movie through some of the torrent sites. But in spite of its obscurity, La cabina succeeds to be rarely fresh, funny and simultaneously horrific in its short time span.
The movie is about a man who almost accidentally decides to make a phone call from a newly installed public phone booth. He enters it and he does not succeed in making the call. Instead, he's trapped inside the phone booth whose door seems to be stuck. Several different men try to help him but noone gets any luck. At the same time, the trapped man becomes a local attraction - children make laugh of him, the adults are having a good time just standing around and laughing. After even the police and firemen do nothing efficient to free him, the crew that has installed the phone booth appears and gets the cabin away with a truck. I don't want to spoil the whole movie for you so I just say that from this point on La cabina continues to be no less entertaining when simultaneously becoming more and more weird and shocking.
La cabina is almost one-man show. José Luis López Vázquez who plays the leading role does a terrific job. With almost no words he succeeds to portray a vast variety of emotions. It is not a silent movie, yet body language is the main instrument of expression in the film. The music also adds to make the whole picture more convincing and fascinating.
I cannot say that the ending is too surprising but it is still something that not everyone would expect especially at the beginning of La cabina. Throughout the movie the plot progresses in a way that audience begins to wonder whether the movie will end on a funny, sad or horrifying note. While the plot is worthy enough, there are also other qualities of the film that make it works so well.
La cabina depicts the life in Spain and probably the majority of countries at the time (and even today) from one of its not so pleasant perspectives. Presented with a lot of humor we see a picture of alienated society. Noone really cares for the man in the phone booth - the crowd is just having some entertainment in its everyday boring life; some of the helpers think it is just their duty to help; another one wants to show he is a strong man; the police and firemen are just doing their job. Nobody seems to have any real empathy for the trapped man.
In its short continuance, the movie exhibits also several very curious scenes like for example, when a group of practicing circus players gathers to look fixedly in the trapped man although the usual case is the opposite - people stare at circus artists. If you watch the film carefully, you will find a lot more to please you on many levels than only the plot itself.
Despite being fairly unknown, La cabina is a wonderful movie with a great leading performance, a simple but powerful story, a matching musical score, non-obtrusive social elements and intelligent humor. If you see the film for the first time, at the end, you may not be excessively surprised but you'll be most likely wondering how it's happened you haven't seen La cabina before.