DIR/WRI: Christian E. Christiansen • PRO: Doug Davison, Roy Lee, Irene Yeung • DOP: Phil Parmet • ED: Randy Bricker • DES: Jon Gary Steele • Cast: Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester and Cam Gigandet
The Roommate is a bad film. Now you know. Fears confirmed. Hopes sundered.
I’d imagine this comes as a shock to scant few of you. And indeed, it is a bad film for all the reasons you’d expect of it: limited imagination, bland horror, uninspired dialogue, paper-thin concepts and the complete absence of anything approaching gore, let alone tension. At most, The Roommate is unpleasantly awkward. You’ll often cringe in your seat, wondering ‘Oooh, what’s the most polite way to ask her to stop acting creepy in this particular situation… ’
That said, I never expected The Roommate to actually make a valid, salient commentary on the modern social interaction, and our cultural obsession with forced civility over brutal honesty. This point is made completely by accident, clumsily tripped over as they tastelessly depict a mentally unstable girl as a horror ‘baddie’. Nonetheless, though entirely unintentional, this point still stabs home.
Basically, the very pretty Leighton Meester plays the titular clingy, needy, psychologically afflicted roommate opposite a very pretty Minka Kelly who just wants to enjoy college and exchange cute yet surprisingly clever banter with her very pretty boyfriend, Cam Gigandet. The three leads are all fine in their roles. And very pretty.
But what’s especially interesting in The Roommate is that while Meester’s antagonist finds new and unsettling ways to overstep the boundaries of privacy and decency, no-one has the spine to turn around and tell her to ‘Cop On!’
Instead the audience is meant to feel for the anxious protagonist, who is reduced to smiling falsely and coddling her increasingly unstable roommate. Isn’t it just awful when beautiful people have to put up with the socially unhinged?!
This chronic inability to confront persists throughout to the point where these characters would prefer to avoid confrontation rather call the police to say, ‘Yo, my roommate has just been mugged and beaten. She needs a doctor and possibly a counsellor.’ The ‘baddie’ here is a very sick young woman who no-one tries to help. At least tonally, The Roommate is despicable.
What’s particularly glaring is that the inevitable tragedy and horror climax could be quite easily avoided if the protagonists showed some backbone, some dignity. Crazy roommates are precisely the kind of thing the Junior Dean is there for!
The Roommate is a bad joke, an excuse to rake in millions while cinema goers watch very pretty actors prance around in socially undesirable scenarios. The only silver lining may be the fact that next time someone steals your necklace, yells at your boyfriend of runs your kitten through a washing machine, instead of smiling and dodging altercation, maybe we’ll have the courage to tell them to get bent!
At least that would be honest. And it might just save our lives.
IFCO website for details)
The Roommate is released on 8th April 2011