Chance encounters have a magical touch beyond comparison; they are brief, meaningful and bound to fade away as easily as they settle into shape. According to values, mentality and age, the two people involved in the affair are more or less open about their sexuality and feelings; Brief Encounter, Before Sunrise were rather focused on the journey both characters undertake rather than on the instant connection and the way it intensely burns. Julio Medem's Room in Rome brings a different touch to the theme of chance encounters in the way the characters are drawn and the intensity of the moment.
This story neither involves a man and a woman, nor does it take place in a railway station or on a train. Yet, it is also about a voyage two young women take into their own intimacy and inner world. Natasha (Natasha Yarovenko) and Alba (Elena Anaya) meet in a bar, like each other and end up spending a night together in a hotel room in Rome. At first, Alba is the confident, emotional one yet towards the second part of the movie, Natasha opens up and blossoms in the eyes of the viewers. There are times when the movie feels strange in the way it glides between magical images of Cupid and Google Earth search for places or watching short movies on the mobile phone. Still, I believe these mundane nuances are used by the director to reinforce and contrast the depth of the connection between the two women.
The story is touching, the movie is well-filmed, the room and the music are characters themselves in a picture that turns out to be engaging and sensitive. The room is full of history, a mixture of the glorious past, with scenes of both the Roman and Greek history, and the modern times, with laptop, Google Earth and mobile phones. In between, the two women love each other tenderly, stripping threads of their souls and wrapping them around each other's heart. The room is an atemporal realm, where deceit goes as far as hurtful truths, where time is on the lovers' side, a real heaven under Cupid's powerful arrows. Natasha and Alba love between the sheets, in the bathtub, with their bodies, souls and minds. They surrender to this brief moment of passion like there is no tomorrow as if this is a one-time chance to reveal their true essence to a kindred spirit. Music is a recurrent theme, hallucinating and impressive, composed, orchestrated and produced by Jocelyn Pook. Yet, the most remarkable is the Loving Strangers performed by Russian Red, a soft and sad melody.
Sex is a rather sensitive theme and it takes a careful, tender touch to be rendered on the screen. It is a mutual effort that involves both actors and director, with a great deal of attention to the manner of filming and the script. It shouldn't feel as an adult movie, nor is it supposed to turn into something trivial or meaningless. Julio Medem beautifully painted a love story that took sex and intimacy to the next level in terms of subtlety and finesse. 'Your skin. Your skin is incredible. Your skin is like the Russian Steppe.' says Alba to her little Russian friend, delicately caressing her white body. It feels so natural and sweet and probably a thing only a woman could say to another. Room in Rome is not a gay movie or a movie for women only, it is a film that speaks of spirits that connect instantly and forever in the most unusual circumstances.