Like the erotic classic Last Tango In Paris, the new drama Room In Rome is a controversial, boundary-breaking film about two women who bare their bodies and their souls during one memorable night in a hotel in Rome. Writer-director Julio Medem (the international smash hit Sex & Lucia) returns with this provocative tale of Alba and Natasha. Two strangers meet, tentatively flirt and then head to Alba’s hotel room where they exchange life stories amidst passionate bouts of love-making.
The stunning actresses Elena Anaya (Pedro Almodovar’s Talk To Her, Sex & Lucia) and Natasha Yarovenko (Diary Of A Nymphomaniac) unflinchingly expose their deepest desires: the two women grow increasingly honest emotionally the closer they get physically. Certain to be a landmark in cinematic sexuality, Room In Rome is a serious and sexy foray into uncharted territory.
Room in Rome 7.0
eyelights: the beautiful cinematography. the sexy sequences.
eyesores: the unconvincing dialogues. the performers’ delivery.
‘Room in Rome’ is a 2010 film by Julio Medem (of ‘Lucía y el sexo‘ fame). It was his first English film and it is based on ‘En la cama‘. It takes place in a hotel room throughout one night as two lovers have a one-night stand and fall in love. Unlike its predecessor, it substitutes a lesbian couple for a heterosexual one.
Personally, I’m a big fan of this type of film because it can offer the best dialogues and performances: with only two characters (and one or two secondary players) and one setting, there is an opportunity for the writer(s) and performers to deliver extremely intelligent, emotionally evocative exchanges.
This doesn’t always work out because, as in a play, if either of those elements are even remotely subpar, we are then stuck in that room for two hours watching terrible performances and hearing bad dialogue with very little reprieve – there aren’t any other characters or plot developments to distract us or change the pace.
Sadly, ‘Room in Rome’ doesn’t hit it out of the park. While it improves on the original from a visual standpoint, in that the photography and the choreography of the sex scenes are exquisite, the dialogues failed to convince me that the two women had a special connection, and their performances weren’t realistic.
What I would have liked to see is a realistic portrayal of a night’s passion, one where the two lovers explored each other’s hearts as well as their bodies. Instead, what I got was artificiality. That is not to say that the actresses were terrible or performed in an outlandish manner – they just weren’t natural. That’s all.
The dialogues, however, were another matter altogether: I just couldn’t understand what the connections were that made them so smitten with one another. Alba would say something mundane or even inscrutable and Natasha would suddenly beam as though something magical had just happened. And I”d be “whoah… did I just miss something?”.
Clearly they had a connection that was very much their own.
The only thing that was interesting about the dialogues was that both Alba and Natasha initially exchanged invented stories to shield themselves, and it took many tries for the pair to peel away the layers and get to the truth. That was intriguing because you never knew what to believe.
Of course, that’s a double-edged sword, because the performances already weren’t realistic, so having them tell lies forced another layer of remove; instead of being immersed in the picture and being emotionally invested, I kept scrutinizing the picture for any hint of truth. There was little of it to be found anywhere.
Even the sex left me disconnected. Oh, don’t get me wrong, some of it was hot as hell, but it didn’t look that real to me because it was so obviously staged to titillate the audience. And let’s be honest: real sex isn’t always pretty or exciting to watch. It can be slow, repetitious, awkward, unflattering, …etc. Not here.
It also made me wonder who these people are who have 20-second encounters and spitfire orgasms. This is a recurring theme with popular erotica, including other media, and I keep wondering what is so hot about a quick rub, a few grunts and then moving on to other things. Isn’t sex better when it’s savoured, when one gets high on the hormonal rush?
I would have much preferred slow, steamy sex that was clearly drawn over a lengthy period of time, than a larger number of short sequences. Dammit, let my brain stew in it for a while. Make me feel like I’m there, in the room, watching. Don’t give me a highlights reel or an ADD version of sex!
The passage of time was a problem with ‘Room in Rome’, however, so perhaps the sequence only appeared quick, but they were actually lengthy. This became evident when dawn came and yet we had been with them for only a little over and hour, with no breaks whatsoever – no sleeping, no fade outs or anything of the sort.
Another problem, for me at least, was the soundtrack. Although I thoroughly appreciated hearing Natachas Atlas two or three times, being a huge fan, I couldn’t stand the song “Loving Strangers” by Russian Red – and it played around a half dozen times. Geezus! At least play different versions of it! Or get a better soundtrack budget!
I remember, when I bought this DVD, that I was told by the video store clerk that ‘Room in Rome’ was merely an okay film. I was hoping for more, evidently, but I think that the low price sealed the deal; it was a good gamble. However, aside from the beautiful (if short) sex scenes and photography, there’s really not much to it.
Medem’s ‘Room in Rome’ is worth checking out, but I’m not sure it’s worth revisiting.
Date of viewing: July 5, 2014