Just so we’re all on the same page, these are the Rooms The Room is not:
There is no Tommy Wiseau, no Oscar-winning Brie Larson, no Silent Hill. Instead, we get the Frenchiest non-French French movie in recent memory. It’s set in the US, and the actors – the stars who are both natively French-speaking – deliver English dialogue written by a group of French people. There’s nothing wrong with any of that in and of itself, but man is there a jarring juxtaposition between cultures to be found in this movie.
The Room is not a good film, but it is a fascinating one. Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) have moved to an old house outside New York, where they find a room that grants them their every material wish. Money, art, clothes, and… a child. That’s right; Kate wants a child, so that’s what she wishes for. What could possibly go wrong?
A bit too late, Matt learns they can’t bring any of these items – or people – outside the house. If they do, they age rapidly and turn to dust. Not an ideal situation with a wish-fulfillment kid.
There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Matt wishes to get the Mona Lisa, which he does, or at least seemingly so. My question is, if he gets the painting, what happened to the one in the Louvre? Did it disappear? Or did it get switched out with a fake painting? Or: Is the painting in Matt and Laura’s house a replica? If that’s the case, the room really is full of it.
And an aside: Why does the kid speak perfect English when Kate and Matt, names aside, are from French-speaking countries and heavily accented at that.
Those aren’t questions the script asks, a script that in general is weird and likely translated (poorly) from French. Some of the lines are nonsensical to the point where the actors look downright confused delivering them. And in a fit of irony, Laura is a professional translator, though, in all fairness, it is never specified what language she specializes in.
But let’s return to the kid.
It turns out that there had been a murder in the house back in the seventies when a kid took out the two owners. Nobody knew his name, where he came from, or what his connection to the couple was. No prizes for guessing the answer to the last two questions.
The real question is: How did the kid – now in a mental institution – get outside without turning to ashes?
It’s an interesting conceit, but sadly the script — even when putting the wonky translation aside — does little with it. The story veers into an Oedipusian direction, which is creepy for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard to care too much about the poorly developed characters, even though Kurylenko and Janssens – both old pros – give it all they got.
I guess I just don’t get it. The Room hit many top tens last year, yet I can’t see what there really is to like about it. Had the movie been in French, it might have worked quite a bit better. In my mind, this was just a half-translated script that not even the actors could grasp.