Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Roommate


Other than having a couple of up and coming starlets to promote, it will be a stretch to try and rationalize how a film such as The Roommate can be made other than to provide a platform to do just that, with a predominantly good looking female cast holding court and trying their best to act around a formulaic theme about how chummy one can get with someone who shares your dormitory room, before finally showing true colours that involve plenty of bitching and back stabbing (literally, and very seriously too). It also plays on the psyche of female competition amongst one another in trying to go one up constantly, and the slightest of provocation means a smile on the outside and contempt on the inside.

But to make it a little bit more palatable, the antagonist has got to be an outright psycho, which Leighton Meester does in her role as Rebecca, a Beverly Hills rich kid who is as mental as can get, although you have to admit possessing a brilliant criminal mind in scheming and plotting to get her way with her roommate, the fashion designer wannabe Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly, who had the bit role as Autumn in (500) Days of Summer), who comes with enough emotional baggage such as a good looking (hardly any ugly folks in this movie, people) ex-boyfriend, and a deceased sister who gets constantly mentioned together with a precious necklace, a small town girl looking toward making it big after her fashion education, aspiring to be like her more adult friend Irene (Danneel Ackles).

Simply put, it's the classic tale of desire and unhealthy obsession, of needing to feel wanted, loved, and accepted by someone else. It steered clear of any romantic notions (unlike Atom Egoyan's film Chloe, since this is more of a teenybopper film) between Rebecca and Sara with the former only earnestly wanting to be with and possess her friend, that enemies and loved ones all fall into her grand plan to be gotten rid of. So in comes the usual caricatures such as a slutty friend (Alyson Michalka) and a sleazy professor (Billy Zane) even, to show just how far Rebecca is willing to cross the line in being Sara's constant protector on earth, where nothing is not worth trying in setting others up for a fall.

Watching this film is like watching a stack of dominoes falling down, where scenes are set up and developed as expected, leading one after another all the way to the finale. You're likely to stay one step ahead each time in Sonny Mallhi's story, with Christian E. Christiansen's direction being unsure of making this a thriller, setting things up rather meekly without delivering any punches, except for the big finale when all hell broke loose, and it became a gladiatorial kitty fight, with Cam Gigandet popping up every now and then in the narrative as Sara's new boyfriend, in just about the same functional role he served in the musical Burlesque.

Perhaps the only more interesting thing to note about this film is the local censor's views again on kissing between members of the same sex. A girl on girl kiss would have warranted an M18 rating so long as lips made contact and not snipped off, but this got bumped down to a more forgiving NC16, so it's either the slow but sure path we'll see in being more liberal with the rating, or the conscious understanding that any rating other than what's given already had detrimental effects on the box office receipts, given that this film, sans established big stars, will likely struggle with its tried, tested and tired plot, and it's giving it a shot in the arm to be taken down fast enough.


Teiwa Lee said...

Just wanted to say, keep up the great work. I read through a bunch of reviews just now, they're great!

Stefan S said...

Thanks Teiwa for the kind comment!

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