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Friday, February 8, 2013

Roman (2006) Horror Drama

Roman (2006) -  This film although a piece of horror is at its heart a love story, a totally fucked up one but a love story just the same. The titular character is a sad sack lonely welder played well by Lucky McKee. Working hard all day he spends his evenings all alone in his drab apartment, looking out the window, waiting for the chance to see his lovely neighbor (Kristen Bell) walk by. There is something a bit disturbing about Roman. The fact that he plans to be in front of his window at just that time just to watch for this particular girl. Director Angela Bettis uses close up and flashes of Roman's thought to build the sense that this may not be the healthiest man around. We flash into his workday where he is thinking of this lovely smiling woman through the sparks of his welding torch. Furthering our discomfort is seeing Roman with his coworkers, awkward detached the director Bettis with writer Lucky McKee effectively foreshadow the flaws that bring so much pain for the character and those he interacts with later in the film.
  We journey with him as he builds up the courage to almost talk to her. When they have a chance encounter on the roof of the building finally we see there could be a spark between them. She is a free spirit who although his uncomfortable nature is drawn to the quirky innocence Bell captures the right tone of interests with fleeting looks of bewilderment when Roman says something a bit strange. We can see in her the desire to get to know him and her internal brushing off of his stranger comments with that goal in mind.  They do connect but increasingly he makes her a bit more uncomfortable. His boundaries with what information to share and not share are blurred. When the incident with Bell's character spiral out of control Roman is reminiscent of Steinbeck's Lennie in "Of Mice and Men" holding onto the little girl's dress his mind not thinking quick enough to extract himself from the situation. No malice intended but dire consequences for his actions. It is a compelling first act.

  Slightly less compelling is the after effects of the incident with its possibly not professional actors as neighbors and police. They did not fit as neatly as McKee and Bell and just seemed a bit out of place. The necessary voice over helps to move the story forward, the linking of what Roman obsesses on eating and drinking as well as his routine to keep his secret shows the effects of his depression. These scene really only a few minutes in length establish his post incident life. They show his struggle to keep it together. The moving of the couch in his apartment was really a smart move. Early in the film it faced out with the living room window in full view when sitting on it. The spot to view Bell's character "The Girl" from. When that relationship closed we have Roman in the same room but with the sofa turned to face into the apartment, the curtains pulled shut because there is nothing out there for him. we watch his care of the place decline as his focus is inward.
  The introduction of  Eva (Nectar Rose)into the picture turns the story again. She like "The Girl" before her is a nymph, playfully enticing Roman out of his shell. Where roman was the obsessed one with the girl this interaction with Eva brings all kinds of feeling that make his uncomfortable. The use of close up in these interactions is very effective when combined with Roman's expressions to relay his discomfort, yet attraction. bringing back the dreamy shot of sparks and a face, but this time with Eva as the face reminds us how women dig themselves into his damaged psyche. We are being setup here, rebooting if you will. The second act is about the new relationship, a chance for Roman to succeed where once failed. He will struggle with not wanting to put his foot into the water again but boy she is persistent. He still is trying to hold onto "The Girl" while slowly being drawn in by Eva.
  He also must come to terms with his mistakes of the past. To let go of the past and fully embrace his possible future with Eva. This is his struggle and his solution is one that seems to work for him. Little by little the past is discarded and he learns to know and love Eva more and more. She although an energetic and loving person, has feeling as dark as his. She is both  a way to a future for Roman and a reflection of the darkness inside him.They of course must have some conflict to move their relationship forward and it is her private obsession reminds him of "The Girl" way too much to tolerate. There fight is also an opportunity for Roman to grow and he does just that finally making the decision to let the past be the past. To move on and try to reestablish something with Eva.
  The final act is surprising even though if you had paid attention you would have seen it properly foreshadowed. Roman come out of his shell and begins to live. Eva is just the right medicine for him and then the final turn completes what is a wonderfully sad story about love , love lost, love and ... well you get the picture and not go see this movie.
  Lucky McKee is plays the awkward protagonist well, his tall lanky body fits enhances his innocence, and clumsiness with women well. Both women are significantly smaller in stature and juxtapose his size well. Both women are excellent in there roles as muses to lighten Roman's world. As stated earlier the rest of the cast seemed less accomplished and took  away from the story in the small parts they played. Angela Bettis keeps this quiet story tight and quiet, probably how it should be constructed. The use of close up and flashbacks are effective throughout the film. It is a well done job on her part. You will have to excuse the one out of place comedy piece in the film, whether intentional or not it did not fit.
  Roman is certainly a dramatic horror piece that should be seen and you should seek it out. He is a flawed man who Like Steinbeck's Lennie he must meet the consequences of his actions even if they were committed without harmful intent. All acts are paid for in the end as the crowd gathers at Eva's apartment, symbolic of George telling Lennie about the rabbit before his end and Lennie responding "Let's go there, let's go there now.

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