THE FORBIDDEN ROOM
(directors/writers: Guy Maddin/Evan Johnson; screenwriter: Robert Kotyk, John Ashbery, Kim Morgan; cinematographers: Stephanie Weber-Biron, Ben Kasulke; editor: John Gurdebeke; music: Guy Maddin/Galen Johnson/ Jason Staczek; cast: Charlotte Rampling (The Ostler’s Mother ), Geraldine Chaplin (The Master Passion / Nursemaid / Aunt Chance ), Mathieu Amalric (Thadeusz M___ / Ostler), Udo Kier (Count Yugh / The Butler / The Dead Father / Guard / Pharmacist ), Roy Dupuis (Cesare), Clara Furey (Margot), Louis Negin (Marv / Smithy / Mars / Organizer / Mr. Lanyon ), Jacques Nolot (Bent / Minister of the Interior), Celine Bonnier (), Karine Vanasse (Florence Labadie), Caroline Dhavernas (Gong), Paul Ahmarani (Dr. Deng / Speedy), Gregory Hlady (Jarvis / Dr. Deane / A Husband), Maria de Medeiros (The Blind Mother / Clotilde ), Marie Brassard (Mysterious Necklace Woman), Sophie Desmarais (Jane Lanyon), Ariane Labed (Alicia Warlock / The Chambermaid ), Amira Casar (Mrs. M___ ), Kim Morgan (Kim), Elina Lowensohn (Sister); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Phyllis Laing, Phoebe Greenberg, Penny Mancuso; Kino Lorber; 2015-Canada)
“The bad part is that at over two hours long the film is not that good.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Winnipeg auteur, Guy Maddin (“The Saddest Music in the World“/”Cowards Bend The Knee”/”Twilight of the Ice Nymphs”), directs and Evan Johnson (Maddin’s research assistant) co-directs this absurd and shapeless curio fantasy film. It never can coalesce into a whole film yet has some sparkling silly moments. Its non-linear story should be of no surprise to Maddin regulars, but its lack of a central theme is not such a good thing.
What remains clear is that it opens and closes with a hygiene lecture by Marv (Louis Negin) on taking a bath properly. In between the weird tale focuses on such tales zooming out of the tub drain such as four men trapped in an early primitive submarine; an apprentice lumberjack (Roy Dupuis, Quebec star) from Holstein-Schleswig rescuing Margot (Clara Furey) from the bandits called the Red Wolves; erotic cave dwellers on a volcanic island; in a filthy hospital a celebrity bone surgeon falls in love with a motorcycle crash victim; and something about a battalion of child soldiers who are looking to cultivate progressive ideas about life.
In brief cameos, the alert film buff may be able to spot such noted international thespians as Udo Kier, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling, and Maria de Medeiros. Locating them becomes a game you can play with other viewers.
The esoteric offbeat film was based on the project of co-director Evan Johnson to reestablish titles and themes that were lost from the days of silent film, which calls for pasting together 17 story lines.
The good part is that it’s an unusual film that demands your attention, is arty and playfully jokey. The bad part is that at over two hours long the film is not that good and becomes exhausting, maybe even for the dedicated Maddin fan.
REVIEWED ON 3/11/2016 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/