Saturday, November 20, 2010

Room in Rome *½

Director: Julio Medem
Cast: Elena Anaya, Natasha Yarovenko
Enrico Lo Verso, Najwa Nimri

Even if he has a fantastic eye for sensuous visuals and material eroticism, Julio Medem has absolutely no clue about how to be subtle. Therefore this movie, that could've easily been a melancholic, oversexed version of Brief Encounter, becomes soft porn with elaborate dialogues and tears.
There is not much of a plot and the film basically revolves around a single night two, not-so-single, women spend in a Roman hotel room.
At first all we know about them is their nationalities; Alba (Anaya) is from Spain, Natasha (Yarovenko) is Russian. Later we also learn one of them is a lesbian as she convinces the other to surrender to desire and have sex.
During the rest of the film they forget to put their clothes back on and spend the hours sharing secrets, stories, orgasms and something they both think begins to resemble love.
It has to be said that for playing characters that sometimes defy logic, the actresses fare really well. Anaya in particular brings a sense of deep sadness to Alba that make her moving even when she's exchanging emotions with a cellphone.
Both women are exquisitely beautiful and probably make the admission price worthy for any audience members just looking to satiate their imaginations but there are moments in the film when they go through so much bullshit that you have to wonder if they are naked to symbolize them baring their souls or Medem is trying to distract us from his terrible writing by having them have a naked pillow fight.
For every thing that the movie gets right; like the moments when these women do silly things and feel completely alive, there are times when Medem can't help but show off his gimmick. Mostly his film feels exploitative because other than a scene here and there, every single element in it seems too thought out, too preconceived.
The characters in Medem's head seem to be people created specifically for the purpose of existing in this very limited universe he created. One of them for example turns out to be a Renaissance expert, not because it makes her more complex but because that way Medem can make all sorts of references to how his plot was prepared by Italian history.
And for every time that the movie gets something right along the way, the director comes and sticks something as unsubtle as Russian Red's Loving Strangers, a song that not only becomes annoying after popping up so much but robs the film of anything that even remotely resembles real emotions.
It's interesting that during many moments we see Google Earth be essential to the plot, this gives us a glimpse of the film that could've been: a nostalgic doomed romance grounded by the fact that modern life hasn't made finding love any easier.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

I could not suspend disbelief for the film. The characters and writing were unreal in any world, even one of fantasy. Mostly, The only beautiful and real moments were when the women were singing and dancing together. I have hardly ever found gorgeous nude women so tedious or a soundtrack so annoyingly intrusive.

The idea could have been executed better. It wasn't too horrible of a movie. Worth a watch for those who are curious, but nothing to write home about.

cinema buzz said...

The film has the classical beauty of a film by Bertolucci or Visconti, but unlike their best films, which tend to look at the darker side of life, "Room in Rome" is ultimately, in spite of some powerful moments of angst, a feel-good movie.