Tuesday, 9 October 2012

3 Films 1 Room

Recently I was trying to think of all the films I could that are set (almost) entirely in a single room, and a thought struck me; the good ones are some of the best films I know. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe they're a case of constraints breeding creativity? Maybe I just love dialogue-driven films? Maybe I just forget the bad ones? (Although Exam would be a counter-example to that - I want my money back, and I didn't even pay anything to see it*). Here are my three favourite almost-but-not-quite-cult examples.

There are no spoilers.


Set in a motel room, two old high-school friends discuss old times, eventually leading to old accusations resurfacing and some very heated moments in such a small space. Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman all give excellent performances.

The Man from Earth

Professor John Oldman gets accosted by friends before he can leave his whole life behind, seemingly for no reason and not giving anyone any clues as to where he's headed to next. Pushed for the reasons for such a hasty escape, he confesses to being 14,000 years old, periodically moving when people notice he doesn't age. His academic colleagues try to pick holes in his story, but he makes them doubt themselves with an answer for every question.

This film is famous in cult circles for being filmed on a budget of $200,000 (not much for a film these days) and being publicised mostly through word-of-mouth on the internet (or should that be "word-of-keys"?) - the producer even commenting on how positive file sharing has been in getting word of the film out.


A gripping portrayal of the Wannsee Conference, depicting the German high command discussing the "Final Solution" behind closed doors. I'm not much of a history buff, but this film really did engage me. Although this film isn't strictly all in one room all the action (by which I mean dialogue; it feels like action) and a large part of the film does, and the rest is not far away.

"Was it a play?"

For some reason, when I mention to someone that a film is set mostly or entirely in a single room, they often ask if it's an incarnation of a play (as if a screenwriter could ever bring such a restriction upon themselves). So far as I know, of the offerings above only Tape started out in life as a play, although The Man from Earth was subsequently made into one.

* It was on TV - lose one hundred million points if you briefly hated me in your head for downloading films. Win one hundred million points back if you still hate me for preempting you; I like that.

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