Dominik is an above-average high school boy. He's got loads of friends, the hottest girl in school, rich parents and money to spend on brand-name clothes, but one innocent orgasm with a mate changes everything. Humiliated, he begins to isolate himself from the outside world. Spending all his time on his computer, he meets an anonymous girl who introduces him to the "suicide room", a place from which there is no escape. Caught in a trap woven of his own emotions, Dominik becomes entangled in a web of intrigue and gradually loses what he cherishes most.Written by
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Poor little beleaguered Dominik (Jakub Gierszał) has it just plain awful - private schools, a personal driver, fancy gadgets and money to burn. Fortunately for him (taking a wild guess on this one) before the opening credits rolled he got hold of "The Sorrows of Young Werther" by Johann Goethe and read it over a dozen times. Thanks to this he is a alienated senior year kid with a messed up sexual orientation. Having parents solely interest in their careers and with skin deep understanding of their son does no favours. After uncontrollably ejaculating during a stranglehold at a karate class he quickly becomes the laughing stock at school. In response to this turn of events he swiftly becomes escapistly involved in an online Sims-wannabee group, which call themselves "The Suicide Room". There he literally starts living his second life, dropping out of school and locking himself in his room hopelessly entangling himself with the cyberworld and its leader, Sylwia (Roma Gąsiorowska-Żurawska).
After much fanfare after a Berlinale premiere and an extremely successful Poland premiere with of people swarming in to the must-see movie of the season, I was anxious to get hold of this new fad. It took me a while and since the hype has simmered down I was able to quietly swallow the movie without external influence.
Thankfully it rather good. But it is a far cry from falling over head over heels in ecstatic admiration. Nonetheless the whole premise of the story structures it around two overlapping but separate worlds. The real one, initially focused mostly on Dominik, but then taken over by his parents played by Agata Kulesza and Krzysztof Pieczyński. Placed on the shoulders of a strong brunt story about dissociation of parents from their children, the emotional deficiencies that it causes and the rage that ensues from such a situation, it strikes a strong cord in most of the right places. It does jar from time to time with oversimplifications, clichés or unnecessary and unfocused jabs at politics, but the threesome creating the family are tremendous. Also the scenes trying to replicate real teen life and their trials / tribulations rings extremely believable and natural (I was like watching myself being stupid back in the days).
And the cyber one, which is stylised like "Second Life" meets "World of Warcraft" with a side-helping of "Doom", except that imagination - and not crude keyboards or a mouse - is the only limit as to what your avatars can do. Given their is no explanation or reason, as to why this is possible, you just have to accept it at face value as a story gimmick. The world itself is enticing and well-conceived creating the necessary atmosphere to invite us into this alternative life. However these sequences fail to bring in the necessary completion to the story. Mainly because of two flaws. The first is Roma Gąsiorowska, an actress achingly reeking with irritating mannerisms coupled with a squeaky voice and some poorly delivered lines. The second is the poetic drivel and existential nonsense served out as wisdom by participants of "The Suicide Room". At its best it is self-centred unfocused romantic pulp. At its worst its just plain terrible scriptwriting. Adding one and two together makes it entirely incomprehensible why a smart young boy with an artistic soul would ever sign up to such a group of wannabees. The only answer that comes to mind is that despite all her flaws Roma Gąsiorowska is one pretty lady.
The ending is pretty great and Jakub Gierszał really pulls his weight in this movie (at least as long as he doesn't have Roma Gąsiorowska as his counterpoint).
Cinematography I must say is top-notch, but than again I may be biased, as I unknowingly discovered this was filmed by a former acquaintance of mine: Radek Ładczuk. Good to see a movie made in Poland that isn't drenched out of colour to a lifeless bleak hue inhabiting 95% of Polish art-flicks.
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