I had the great fortune to see this film at the closing gala of the Festival del Cine Español en Màlaga. I have been a great fan of the work of Julio Medem ever since I saw 'La Ardilla Roja' some 15 years ago. And his latest film doesn't disappoint either. However, it is in some ways a departure for him. He said so himself at the press conference the day before the screening. He called it the 'most simple film' he has made so far. This is certainly true as the story is quite straightforward and (apart from a few small scenes), the entire film concentrates on its 2 female protagonists. It is no secret that the film is based on the Chilean film 'En la cama' by Matias Bize. But Medem has made the material entirely his own and developed it in a completely different way. The only things in common with the previous film is that they both charter the encounter of 2 people who only just met during one night in a hotel room. But that's where the similarities stop. Of course the biggest difference is that here the protagonists are both women. Ever since 'Lucia y el sexo' Medem has been concentrating more and more on the exploration of the female psyche. This was most evident in his previous film, the (apart from the end) masterful, yet very misunderstood 'Caotica Ana'. But whereas that film ambitiously delved into deep philosophical questions about the subjugation of the female over 2,000 years of patriarchy, here this exploration takes a simpler, though no less profound form - the exploration of female love & sensuality. Having 2 women instead on a mixed couple (or 2 men for that matter), allowed Medem to concentrate on this aspect without any distraction. He said at the press conference that for a number of years now he has been discovering and exploring his own feminine side. And it is exactly this which gives the film its universal appeal, instead of being 'just a lesbian' tale. The feelings and sentiments expressed & shown will resonate with every viewer, regardless of their sex and/or sexual orientation. This is probably also in no small way due to the involvement of both actresses in the shaping of their characters as well as the final script (Medem re-wrote the screenplay a number of times to incorporate their inputs & ideas). And their respective performances are excellent. There is real chemistry between Elena Anaya and Natasha Yarovenko - without this the film just wouldn't have worked. Both give very subtle and nuanced performances as what begins as just a night of fun & sex gradually turns into something far deeper as both characters realise they are falling in love, something neither had bargained for. Guarded at first, telling each stories which may or may not be true, both women start bit by bit to reveal more about themselves until in the end their souls are as naked as their bodies. A couple of months ago a so-called promo circulated on the internet, cobbled together from stolen material from the first week of shooting, which suggests the film is no more than a voyeuristic soft-core fest. But nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, both are naked most of the films running time, and yes, there is some sex. But the sex is beautifully filmed and essential within the story line. And the fact that they are naked is just that, a natural fact! They would be, given the situation, and one soon forgets about it. What matters are the characters and the way they develop and interact with each other. Being quasi a 2-hander, the film does have quite a theatrical feel. Most of the dialogue is in English. That seems only natural, as one girl is Spanish and the other Russian, both meeting in Italy. This allows for some poignant moments when neither can really express what their feel in this foreign language and start speaking in their own tongues - which, of course, the other can't understand. But Medem also works with silences - some of the most profound realizations happen just with facial expressions. Intervowen in all this are the directors trademark poetic touch, with references to philosophy, art & history, as well as to his own films - there is even a reference to his next project, Aspasia (look her up on Wikipedia!). Coupled with excellent, atmospheric camera work (well, it is a Julio Medem film after all) and an evocative soundtrack with music by Jocelyn Pook and Russian Red, this is a deeply touching and satisfying film, one that stays with you. At least for me, but judging by the long standing ovation for Medem, Elena Anaya, Natasha Yavorenko plus the film's producer, Alvaro Longoria at the end, I don't seem to be the only one who feels like that.
Room in Rome
Room in Rome
A hotel room in the center of Rome serves as the setting for two young and recently acquainted women to have a physical adventure that touches their very souls.
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April 1, 2019