STARRING Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Erika Christensen
WRITTEN BY Peter A. Downing, Billy Ray
DIRECTED BY Robert Schwentke
So how many scripts tempted Foster to return to work between her last major role, 2002's Panic Room, and Flightplan? ''Absolutely nothing came close. Not at all,'' Foster says. ''I'm ready when I'm ready. I don't want to ever feel I'm making movies because it's this terrible job and I have to punch the clock.'' What finally lured her back was the script for Flightplan, a twisty thriller that has Foster playing the recently widowed Kyle Pratt whose daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston), vanishes at 40,000 feet on a transatlantic flight. The crew quickly begin to suspect that Julia was never on the plane and may not even exist.
The script came to Foster after several revisions: The original story was about terrorists on a flight to New York City, but after 9/11 Schwentke thought it would be too intense for audiences. ''So we took the kernel of an idea that played out for maybe 10 pages: A male protagonist cracks under the stress of the death of his spouse, but you're not sure how much he's cracked,'' the director says. Male protagonist was turned female for Foster she believes the script works better with a female lead anyway. ''There's a moment in the movie when Kyle doubts her sanity,'' she says. ''It's the kind of doubt I don't think any man would ever have. Women's relationship with their children is this strange symbiotic bond...they are their children.''
Shooting in Los Angeles and Berlin, the cast including Sarsgaard as an air marshal and Bean as the captain found themselves trapped in a tube for weeks on end. This provided some spooks for Sarsgaard, a lifelong aerophobe. ''It's interesting that I did a psychological thriller on an airplane because I'm involved in a psychological thriller on an airplane every time I fly,'' he says. Ultimately, however, it was two-time Oscar winner Foster who provided the most intrigue. ''She's very moving to watch, quite mesmerizing,'' Bean says. ''You're doing a scene and get caught up watching her.'' Sept. 23
STARRING Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hope Daivs
WRITTEN BY David Auburn, Rebecca Miller
DIRECTED BY JOHN MADDEN
From the moment that Paltrow reunited with her Shakespeare in Love director Madden for the 2002 London theater production of Proof, tongues wagged about a possible movie adaptation. But it took a bit of convincing to bring the award-winning pair back for a screen version of the haunting play about Robert (Hopkins), a brilliant but mentally ill mathematician, and his depressed daughter Catherine (Paltrow), who gives up her studies to care for him. ''I don't think [a movie version] is something you want to undertake unless you think that something particular can be gained from it,'' says Madden. ''It's kind of an odd challenge because [the play] is quite interior and quite restricted...but there seemed to me to be a way of telling the story in cinematic terms that was interesting and unusual. Rarely does [a film]take you inside somebody's head.''