A low-budget film that contains a terrific performance by a hitherto unknown
actress, ROOM marks the fictional feature debut of writer-director Kyle Henry. Having
cut his teeth as an editor and documentary filmmaker (AMERICAN COWBOY), Henry
easily makes the transition.
The generically named ROOM traces an arc in the life of Julia Baker (Cindi Williams
in an extraordinary performance).Julia is married with two daughters. She's frustrated and
overworked, juggling two jobs -- delivering advertisements by day, toiling in various positions
at a bingo hall by night. She and her husband have reached a stagnant place in their marriage,
and her two daughters barely acknowledge or obey her. She's struggling financially, and
trying to cope with a general, unnameable malaise that manifests itself in migraines and
visions of a large spacious loft-like room.
On an impulse, she robs her employer and heads off on a journey of self-discovery
that takes her from her Texas home to New York City. Convinced that she will eventually
locate the room in her visions, she takes up residence in a seedy motel in Queens and
travels about the city, searching. She follows her "visions" (which the audience also
experience as she does) and lands in various locales throughout the city. One takes
her to a seemingly abandoned building where she happens upon a women's encounter
group. Another takes her to an empty loft shown by a real-estate agent. Desperate, Julia
even consults a psychic.
What holds the audience's interest is Williams' terrific performance. That the audience
comes to care about this troubled woman is a tribute to the actress' warmth and skill.
Williams is the opposite of the epitome of a "movie star;" a theater-trained actress, she
looks like most normal people and that goes a long way to allowing for audience identification.
The biggest flaw in ROOM is that Henry bobbles the ending and leaves Julia and, by
extension the viewer, hanging. Perhaps that was intentional on the writer-director's part,
but since we've made this journey with this woman, I had hoped there would be a payoff.
MPAA Rating: NONE
Running time: 71 mins.
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.