In Room 27 of a Singapore hotel a handful of love stories play out across the decades. The room sees unrequited love and illicit affairs and provides a safe haven or a prison for those who stay there. With an international cast and an ambitious premise In the Room is an enjoyable series of short tales that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
The strengths of the film lie in its attention to detail. As the film moves through the decades not only does the décor of the hotel change but the shooting style of the film does too. Director Eric Khoo starts of shooting in black and white with minimal camera movement and moves into Technicolor and more mobile visuals. What lets these efforts down is the foundation of the film; its script.
The general concept has a good conceit and an opportunity to tell six solid stories but what we actually get to see are relatively simplistic dramas. Nothing overly complex is going down and some of the stories veer away from being romantic or sexy and instead towards cheesy and pornographic. There’s also a slight blurring of the lines between what is romantic and what is just molestation. One moment in particular veers a little too close to Hollow Man for me.
The film somehow goes too far in some aspects but not far enough in others. A lot of the threads were amusing but not emotionally relatable enough to be satisfying. What started as attention to period detail in sets and costumes too goes awry by the end as the hotel is a little too grubby and brush strokes are visible on the occupants grubby limbs where miscellaneous dirt has been painted on. The final vignettes in In the Room turn the film into a parody of itself and undermine any good storytelling that has gone before.
Enjoyable enough and with some artistry to admire In the Room is never as good as it could, or should, be.
In the Room screens again at the festival on the 11th of October and tickets are still available online.