Director and screenplay: Sono Sion
Photography : Yuichiro Otsuka, Shigenori Miki
Mounting : Kunihiko Ukai, Sono Sion
Music : Kosei Yamamoto, Hiroki Okano
Sound : Hiroki Okano
Production : Yasuoka Takuji, Nakano Takayuri, Ryo Matsuoka
Running Time: 92 min.
Release Date: 18 January 1997
Score ★★★☆☆ 3/5
An elderly killer, on Sunset Boulevard, is the perfect apartment search. Small but spacious, quiet and well insulated. We can not know what his intentions are and why they seek so careful and meticulous. A young real estate agent shows, with patience and thoroughness almost robotic, various accommodation all’accigliato sir, but no one seems to respond to the characteristics requested by him. The perfect solution is achieved only at the end of the story.
Place The Room inside the filmography of Sono Sion is certainly not an easy task, so this little film is full of abstraction, forgetfulness and subtraction, the placing in almost baroque scene of his other most recent works by Suicide Circle to Noriko’s Dinner Table from Strange Circus in Love Exposure . The Room , quiet, static and enigmatic, it is also, and above all, the representation of the discomfort of his old protagonist, and a painful life of which we are given to know very little. A discomfort that is felt almost only through the withered look on his tired face. The ruts left by time on facial features and his impassive gaze, almost apathetic, dispersed in environments of an urban context that seems to ignore it and that he himself does not seem to endure more.
Much of what you see recalls the expressive choices of other known independent films like that ‘ Eraserhead David Lynch made of silence and Juventus thwarted and shelled its unique trademark.
Another key aspect of The Room for the sound that swallows the spaces and characters with its urban rumbles, like interference which seem to proceed regardless of the slow and inexorable human gait. And so, if the dialogues are few, although rather eccentric, the sounds create a sort of ‘resonant wall’ which fills the silences left by the words and that, along with grainy images, direct and essential, shape visual imagery sure impact. Note, then, as the sound of many dialogues is offset from the position of the characters in the Recovery Plan: in the foreground items can, in fact, come from relegated actors also in the background of the pane.
Right from the first shots and there are two important features of the film: the fixity of the camera and long silences. Any information is superfluous compared to what will be revealed only in the epilogue: the purpose of the old assassin in search of a perfect room. He does not even have a name. No matter what it’s called, but what he has done (that with the passing of the minutes will be lighter) and what it will do (the extreme resolution of the final close, no appeals, the narrative circle). Almost entirely absent will be the camera movements and the musical accompaniment. The viewer arrive only the sounds of the direct drive of the road environments, and therefore also the silence of the empty houses visited, from time to time, by the two protagonists. The search for an apartment seems to be the only important thing that still makes sense. The moments of transferring from house to house, on the subway or on foot, are not accompanied by almost no dialogue and no particular movement of the actors. Inside the subway cars, the frame and the position of the performers are always very similar. The only dialogues take place inside the homes visited, when the woman shows the apartment to himself and those expressed his dissatisfaction. The fixity of the plans and the lack of dialogues slow down the time of the narrative, which come alive only at the entrance in each new apartment. The iteration of first and extreme close-ups in the silence enhances the slightest expression of the faces framed. A key role in the narrative of The Room is assumed by flash back that reveals the identity of the protagonist’s killer. It is, at least in some respects, the only action scene of the film, as he can remember, even his tone a bit ‘surrealist, certain works by Suzuki Seijun and, in general, the Nikkatsu action films sixties. What this explicit flash back, forcing the viewer to rethink everything that has seen up to now. The images are accompanied (as it happens in other parts of the film) by the voice over of the protagonist, punctuated by sighs, efforts and panting, all in a sort of sound foreground.A sound texture, this, which is also found in the scene where the man meets his presumed colleague, even more advanced in years.Scene that, like others, is marked by ambiguities and uncertainties, including the mysterious exchange of briefcases and, above all, the fear that the two manifest against the dead, almost metaphysically they felt persecuted by the ghostly shadows of their victims without peace. The phrase that opened the film can, perhaps, only to find his way into the final with no escape: “April was the cruelest month. Goodbye, Twentieth Century.