Entertainment

/

ArcaMax

Review: 'Immaculate Room' takes the shine off a potentially fascinating experiment

Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

A $5 million cash prize to spend 50 days in an empty room— how hard could that be? This is the question posed by writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewil in the high-concept intimate drama “The Immaculate Room,” starring Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth.

“The Immaculate Room” calls to mind other projects like Joseph Kosinski’s experimental drug testing drama “Spiderhead,” the sci-fi two-hander “Passengers,” and there are even shades of “Squid Game” with the big cash prize attached, though the scenario is far less violent. Or is it?

Michael (Hirsch) and Kate (Bosworth) enter the room with high hopes. If they finish out the 50 days, they can split the $5 million. If one of them leaves, the prize drops to $1 million. Their sustenance is a carton of mysterious liquid, “not exactly Shake Shack.” If they ask for a “treat” to alleviate the monotony, hundreds of thousands of dollars are shaved off the pot.

Kate imagines the time spent in the room will be “a second chance” for the couple, whose relationship has been rocky, and plans to invest her winnings. Michael just wants to “never think about money ever again,” and be free to make whatever kind of art he wants. With a swift efficiency, Dewil lays out the situation before us, and then lets time, the room, and these characters do the work.

Michael is chaos and Kate is control. He runs laps, she meditates. He climbs the walls and she repeats affirmations. He is the id and she is the ego. How many days are left? Hours? Minutes? Will they emerge victorious, or even intact?

The room is a social experiment designed by a reclusive professor who once tested the effects of fame on a normal American family with a blockbuster documentary experiment. Though the results of that project were bleak, Michael remains intrigued by his work, while Kate is clearly motivated by the money. But why? They both seem comfortable, though the class differences between them creep in, as Kate’s controlled facade cracks under pressure.

Dewil throws in wild cards like messages from loved ones, a pistol, a naked woman (Ashley Greene Khoury), and ecstasy pills to heighten the madness that’s brewing in the room, which is becoming less immaculate by the hour. But essentially, it’s the boredom that gets to them, that allows long-simmering tensions, grief and resentments to bubble to the surface. It’s a fascinating experiment in itself to try and make a film about boredom that isn’t boring, and Dewil doesn’t always manage to succeed in this effort.

Despite a couple of committed performances from Bosworth and Hirsch, and the use of highly stylized montages to pass the time — one, a manic, rock-fueled ellipses of the pair as a highly productive pair of dutiful money-winners, the other a pink-hued, ecstasy-laden swirl of sensuality — “The Immaculate Room” tests the audience’s patience as much as it does the characters’.

 

Perhaps it’s because their motivations aren’t as heightened as the situation they’re in, but it’s hard to connect with why Michael and Kate are there in the first place, and why they don’t leave. Dewil serves up an ending that’s far too pat for the dark events that precede it. It’s all just a little too immaculately rendered to be satisfying, or even compelling beyond the initial conceit.

———

‘THE IMMACULATE ROOM’

2 stars (out of 4)

Rated R for some drug use and nudity

Running time: 1:32

Where to watch: In theaters and On Demand Friday

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus