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by M. Faust
In a month filled with extravagantly simple-minded jock movies, a film like Room goes so far in the opposite direction as to almost even out the balance all by itself. Just as an indication of what you’re in for, Austin filmmaker Kyle Henry lists among his influences Don DeLillo, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, and filmmakers like Michael Snow, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Chantal Akerman, Nicolas Roeg and Ken Russell. In other words, there aren’t many of you who will be choosing between this and, say, Gridiron Gang.
Room begins as a study of middle American desperation. Laura is a working-class mother whose life is starting to get the better of her. She is overworked, abused by a boss who knows she can’t afford to quit her shitty job, unable to get enough sleep or pay the bills and frustrated by the indifference of her children. She’s played by Cyndi Williams, a non-svelte actress who embodies the character almost too well in a performance that is at times painful to watch.
Laura begins to suffer what she thinks are migraines, severe enough to leave her unconscious. But these spells come with visions, apparently of a large, industrial room. After she awakes from one so bad it causes her to crash her car, she robs a safe and takes an airplane to New York City. We don’t know what she’s doing, but she doesn’t seem to know either: She seems to pick the destination at random, and once there takes a cheap motel room and waits to see what will happen next.
What happens to her is the kind of thing that will frustrate audiences who like tidy resolutions in their movies. Is it 2001: A Space Odyssey by way of Luis Bunuel’s Simon of the Desert? Only director Henry knows. In interviews he hints at a portrait of America’s ongoing angsts exacerbated by fears of a terrorist-infested world. It is at any rate a disturbing experience not recommended for the faint of heart or weak of spirt.
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v5n38: Broadband of Brothers (9/21/06) > Film Clips > Room
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