“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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