Room In Rome” Julio Medem

I passed over Room In Rome three or four times before final­ly I spied who had direct­ed it. The dvd cov­er boasts a cou­ple of naked nymphettes entwined in a bath. It is bad enough promis­ing cheap thrills you’re not going to deliv­er on, but try­ing to give your girl on girl sub soft porn the veneer of cul­ture by set­ting the whole thing in Rome just isn’t crick­et. So what on earth was Julio Medem think­ing, and no won­der I hadn’t heard about it.

Medem is one of the few gen­uine­ly excit­ing film mak­ers work­ing in Europe today. Like Italy’s Mar­co Bel­loc­chio, he explores that neb­u­lous ter­rain where lust, love and long­ing inter­sect. After the promise of his debut, Vacas (‘92), he went on to make the won­der­ful­ly sul­try The Red Squir­rel (‘93), a ride into the sub­con­scious that revolves around a clus­ter of sex­u­al archetypes.

Lovers of the Arc­tic Cir­cle was next (‘98), a pristine­ly beau­ti­ful jour­ney fol­low­ing a pair of lovers as they move from child­hood to ado­les­cence and even­tu­al­ly adult­hood. And if the final third doesn’t quite live up to what had pre­ced­ed it, it is still a sump­tu­ous voyage.

Sex And Lucia (‘01) remains his only slight dis­ap­point­ment. But with The Basque Ball (‘03), an appro­pri­ate­ly elu­sive doc­u­men­tary he made on his mer­cu­r­ial native soil, Medem was back in the groove. So how on earth had his next film, Room In Rome (‘10) failed to secure a distributor?

There’s no mys­tery as to why films fail to reach the cin­e­mas. Almost always, it is because they’re no good. Almost always. This, hap­pi­ly, is one of those rare excep­tions. But it is a very small, gen­tle sto­ry, so you can almost under­stand why it might have been over­looked. Two peo­ple get to know one anoth­er over the course of a sin­gle night and in the one room, in an inti­mate­ly craft­ed explo­ration of Sap­ph­ic pas­sion. It’s won­der­ful­ly engag­ing, and, hence, qui­et­ly moving.

Not a major work. If you’ve nev­er seen any of his films, you should begin with Lovers Of The Arc­tic Cir­cle, before treat­ing your­self to The Red Squir­rel. But if you’re look­ing for a pick-me-up on a drea­ry, dull, driz­zly after­noon, Room In Rome will gen­tly lift you up, and send you out of the gloom and into the sunlight.


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