The Roommate (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Roommate (2011)

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Andrew DISLIKEDo you remember when horror/thrillers used to leave things to the imagination?  When the real hideous violence would occur off-screen or allow us some degree of projection into the film?  It seems like we lost a critical component of guilt and identification when the films just decide to show us the horrible stuff to begin with.  This is all a roundabout way of avoiding the central thesis of this piece, which is that The Roommate is the worst movie I've seen all year.

Some projects just seem so devoid of intellectual curiosity or base entertainment value that I have to sit and wonder who thought it a good idea.  The Roommate picks a pretty common fear, being stuck with a crazy dorm-mate for college, and pushes it to every predictable conclusion from the opening frame.  It doesn't even bother to take it to any sort of extremes, no real titillation, no danger, no excitement, no insights into why someone lapses into a  murderous rampage.  Not a single interesting thought.

For those of you familiar with Single White Female or, hell, Black Swan the plot won't be too dissimilar.  Iowa-born college student Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) arrives at college and begins partying it up in between her intense studies in fashion design.  She lives in the dorms with Rebecca Evans (Leighton Meester), who begins an immediate and terrifyingly noticeable obsession with Sara.  It starts off small, with Rebecca borrowing pieces of jewelry that belonged to Sara's dead sister, but quickly devolves into assaulting Sara's best friends and playing with sharp objects.

If someone says that a painting of a bleeding and bound nurse is their favorite and can't explain why other than "it speaks to me", you have cause for alarm.

I struggled to find something worth taking notes on during the entire run-time of this film.  The closest thing I got to a genuine thought about it was in regards to Sara's burgeoning studies as a fashion designer.  Those scenes could be completely cut from the movie and you wouldn't miss a beat.  So, perhaps, with all the empty noodling of those moments anchored around a film that can be predicted from the first frame - maybe director Christian E. Christiansen was making a point about the vacuous nature and tepid indifference to the human condition that high fashion represents?

But I don't want to drag high fashion into this.  It's not my art form of choice, but it shames me enough that this stupid bit of garbage is in my art form of choice and that makes me angry.

Is there a single intelligent decision made regarding this film?  It's glacially paced, parsing out it's "insane roommate" moments amongst so many unnecessary detours that I continued my fruitless struggle to figure out why some plot-lines were left in.  Then I had an "Oh, duh" moment as I realized the boyfriend stuff is left in so that he can come save the day at the end.  Silly me for thinking that they would even bother to put in a feminist empowerment message in there.

At least the boyfriend is as vacuous as the lead.  I'm sorry Minka, I've been going through the amazing TV series Friday Night Lights and I've seen you hit emotional highs that brought me to tears.  Here you seem like an emotional boulder at the bottom of a steep valley.  What progress anyone could make, while not worth it and extremely difficult, is suffocated by your flat line delivery and blank expression that never wavers.  You are an excellent actress, but everything here leads me to believe you took the role out of some form of complicated masochism that I have a hard time comprehending.

For the maximum amount of hand-holding, we are treated to the scene of our lead investigating a bottle of anti-psychosis medication to find out it's anti-psychosis medication. Thrilling stuff.

Leighton Meester is a bit more compelling as the crazy roommate.  But since there isn't much Mr. Christiansen gives her to do other than torment Sara's friends it's hard to form a better vision of how the film might have gone.  Still, I can't place all the blame on the director, screenwriter Sonny Mallhi should have faced second doubts of a near-spiritual nature when he realized what a depressingly hackneyed piece of work he turned in.  Then the producers should have spent their money better, the studio it's time, and anyone involved should go home and hang their head in shame.

I go into every film hoping that it will be good because writing reviews like this is not fun, it's depressing.  Much like comedians express themselves through their comedy, I express myself through my creative writing and analysis of movies.  I don't like feeling this way.  I don't like knowing that people wasted good time on something so ignorantly blank and predictable.

I still hold out hope that everyone involved will make good movies.  The Roommate is not one of them.

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The Roommate (2011)

Directed by Christian E. Christiansen.
Screenplay by Sonny Mallhi.
Starring  Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester.

Posted by Andrew

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