Aug 16, 2009
The Plot: Roman is a “different” kind of guy. He lives alone in his apartment, doesn’t watch TV and at a certain point of day he opens his blinds just so he can watch a certain beautiful girl walk past. He’s in love with her despite not speaking a word to her. As would be the case, he does meet up with her on the roof one day and the two strike up a conversation. When she winds up back in Roman’s place, Roman suddenly feels the urge to keep her there no matter what. When she apparently gets a little freaked by his behavior, she starts to leave but Roman won’t allow her. The two begin wrestling and Roman covers her mouth and accidentally ends up strangling her. Roman is destroyed, and decides to hide the body rather than take on the responsibilities of his crime. He keeps her in his bathtub and fills it with ice to keep her preserved. Slowly he begins to take a piece of her body out and getting rid of it every Sunday. Things get complicated though as Roman finds a new love interest, in the bubbly girl in his apartment building who has a infatuation with death. What will Roman do, and does he still have that killer instinct?

The Review: In 2002 two names exploded into the hearts and minds of horror aficionados all across North America. It was a certain little Indie that picked up steam and turned out to be a sizable cult hit in horror corners called May that produced both. Actress Angela Bettis and director Lucky McKee both showed a tremendous amount of talent in their early offering, with McKee showing a keen knowledge for the genre and what audiences expect, and then twisting all of those ideas around and delivering a character study wrapped in a dark package. So, four years later with Bettis even further established in her craft and Lucky having dabbled in a more mainstream project with The Woods where he didn’t have as much control as he would have liked, the two teamed up again. This time with the two returning to their indie format, but with roles reversed as Lucky took the role of lead actor and Angela taking over in her first directorial role. Using a script written by Lucky when in college, the two underwent the project using limited resources, likely in direct contrast of the experience left behind from The Woods. A dramatic experiment with two artists with very interesting points of view, such direct experimentation isn’t seen very often – does the project pan out? Well, yes and no.

Roman was written by Lucky McKee as a young man in his life before May, and in my opinion the finished film kind of reflects that. It turns out as my main complaint for the film, but the script reflects the disappointments of young men and the pipe dreams we sometimes create in the ultimate hopes of fighting loneliness. If it wasn’t for Bettis, I’m sure this project wouldn’t have even existed. However, when watching you just get that feeling that this was a work of a less mature artist than the filmmaker who would later flourish. All writers have those stories they have lying around that when they go back to some years later are almost unbearable to sit through. Although Roman is not at all a terrible film by any means. Truthfully it’s a more interesting project than most anything you’ll find in the New Horror section at your video store. In particular, the obsession with death and its effects on those of us left to deal with it’s cruel indifference – well this part of the screenplay and how it comes about in the final minutes of the film make for some of the most interesting bits in any McKee script I’ve seen thus far. Although I felt that some of the ways in which he tackled these issues showed the plight of a young man, the final turn in Roman (which I won’t spoil for you) just seems so touching and different than from what came before it. When watching the film, I was almost on the verge of giving it a ‘bleh’ review, but after the eventual ‘twist’ (if you want to call it that) I had to completely re-evaluate my opinion. It’s amazing how two or three scenes can really save an entire project and such was the case for Roman in my eyes.

I realize at this point the film surely can’t sound that interesting, however I will say that for fans of May or Lucky’s work that this would definitely be worth tracking down. The goofy interviews on the DVD are worth the price of the disc by themselves! There are actually a lot of interesting things going on in Roman. Bettis direction is straightforward but she does make the most of the video medium and the visuals of the film are always deft. The look of Roman’s lover, or what is left of her at any given point, covered in fresh ice is as memorable as the cover art shows it to be. It’s certainly a great looking feature and I think Bettis helps keep all of her actors in fine shape and there are some really great performances in the film. Particularly from the female leads. Lucky’s performance has been equally panned as well as celebrated, some view him as wooden and awkward while others felt the performance perfectly encapsulated the character. I’m a little in the middle. I was actually expecting the worst from Lucky in the role for some reason but was pleasantly surprised at how he was able to keep his character relatively pleasant despite how easy it would have been for the character to seem whiny. Despite being slightly wooden (well, when compared to larger budget films I suppose. Amongst Indie films he is absolutely fantastic here) I think he really carried the film and did a good job. Generally I found myself quite pleased with the film from an aesthetic and technical point, I think what problems I find with it all come down to the story it tells. With this sulking young man who is afraid of life and prefers to be in love from a distance, but all of a sudden finds himself being stalked by two very different and very beautiful women. It just seems like something I would write myself a year or two ago, and believe me, I’m far from a great writer. Aside from the male fantasy aspects, the stilted dialogue and somewhat silly “date” sequences (where Roman takes the limbs of his ex-lover out on Sundays, on something like a picnic date before disposing of the piece of flesh) kind of take the film out of our reality and bring them into a place that I just didn’t find all too interesting. However, I must admit that the ‘date’ scenes also make the film as memorable as it is. I just like describing those scenes to people I suppose.

What can I say? It’s a film I think I would struggle to say I am really behind it. However, it isn’t a bad film. It just has it’s problems. I’m giving it a three out of five. I would limit my recommendation, as I said, to those who are familiar with the artists and want to see what the situation is like when the roles are reversed.

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