Room in Rome
Room in Rome
“Loving strangers” – repeated lyric of reoccurring song
The trailer for Room in Rome hit the net and people went nuts, because here is a movie about two lesbians who are nude for most of the film having sweet lesbian sex. That whole story about people going to watch art house foreign films just for nudity seemed to apply once again, in the age of the internet and ease to access of nakedness like never before. It was a weird phenomenon. Room in Rome turned out to be a film about two women and their relationship during one night, filled with far more talking than lovemaking (though there is plenty of that as well). Expectations shattered, the buzz from the nudity excitement crowd died down, and what is left is a nice love story that’s probably 20 minutes too long.
The length issue has lead to a reputation that Room in Rome is boring (which I’ve found to be a common complaint of lesbian cinema for some reason). That might be a reaction to the characters constantly bringing up philosophical quotes and European history discussions that will fly over the heads of most viewers. I guess I’m weird because I didn’t mind them, though I question how long you can realistically keep up such highbrow discussion.
Room in Rome flows beyond two strangers just having a one night’s stand before returning to their own lives. Their brief fling becomes an entire romance, and a lifetime of love flies by in that one night. Both characters know that what they have will not last past the break of day. The length does help spread out the approach of daylight. We all know that the morning is coming, and the passion and feelings we are witnessing will have to end, the two women returning to their lives. The spectre of morn haunts through the night, Alba and Natasha both reacting their own way to the upcoming emotional bomb.
Alba and Natasha both have things missing from their lives. Alba is in a relationship with a woman with children, one having dies in a tragic accident that Alba gets the blame for. The death causing her partner Edurne to become more distant and sad. Alba’s career is in engineering, she’s in Italy for a conference where she just found out her work won’t be funded. With things crashing all around her, the night with Natasha represents a peek at a life she wants but can’t have, a life of happiness.
Natasha is from an upper crust family and having a getaway before she returns to be married and settle down with a middle class husband. Her marriage seems like its following the accepted societal norms and she’ll go on to be a wife and mother and do everything expected. Thus, her fling in Italy with Alba is a total departure from character, a method of escape. Throughout the night as we learn more of Natasha, her twin sister, and their life growing up, between the lies and half-truths we see a character who is yearning for escapes from her reality.
The connection between the two characters extends beyond the physical lust, both are caught up in situations that they aren’t 100% happy in. Their want of escape but lack of actual ability to realistically escape unites them and creates a bigger bond. Both recognize the other is embellishing their tales and can cut through the stories, because they’ve built their own homes from the same straw.
The two pull in historical and philosophical reference to carry their discussions forward, while inventing their own yarns to pump up their own tales. The though seems to be that if they make up lies, then they won’t be so connected to each other. But their chemistry is so strong they both see through each others’ stories. Alba’s tale of being sold to an Arabian prince and escaping while pregnant turns out to be an exaggeration of her own mother’s story and a reference to the child’s death in her family. Natasha’s tales of her twin sister melt with her own, the truth being more twisted (though mirroring an episode of South Park!)
By the morning fantasy and reality begin to blur, with a visual interpretation of Cupid’s arrow emphasizing the pain of the upcoming separation. By this point the women have been up all night, and perhaps are beginning to see things. Certainly the sleep deprivation can explain the fact they use Bing! But it also adds a bit to the ultimate ending, and little bit of uncertainty that lets you decide just how happy things will end up.
The “loving strangers” refrain invites you to love these two strangers who found love and familiarity with each other. And it is a stretch to say I love the film or characters, I can see some charm. Room in Rome is not for everyone, but neither is a same-sex one night stand. It is an interesting look at two people who grow closer as they shed their lies and clothes, creating a connection neither expected. Their lives are altered forever, whatever their choices in the future become. While Room in Rome probably won’t be permanently altering your life, there is plenty worse out there to be wasting your time watching.
Rated 7/10 (painting, another actor in the film???, map, award, symbolism, more symbolism, karaoke)
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