Saturday, July 10, 2010

125 Rooms of Comfort

(Patrick Loubert, 1974)
Compulsive irony, compulsive freakishness, uniformly neurotic characters, garbled crosstalk, layers of slapstick and cynicism mired in textured obscurity...remind you of anyone? Admittedly, the prospect of Altman transposed to St. Thomas, ON is pretty tantalizing, and the uppity, negationist tone is in many ways a healthy corrective to the beautiful-loser mopiness of yore, although from here it looks just as dated. The borrowed eccentricity of the shooting style still has its rewards, though, and the interactions between these memorable eccentrics provoke many knowing smiles and a few laughs. There are whiffs of elitist contempt that amplify throughout, but the real issue seems to be a lack of means: not just the frequently muffled sound quality but an 82 minute running time that gives the electrons precious little space in which to bounce. Episodic digressions and transgressions steal so much spotlight from core plot and character development that the big statement of the queer-bashing climax feels incongruously overwrought instead of incisive.

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