The Forbidden Room
dir Guy Maddin
scr Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk
prd Guy Maddin, David Christensen, Phoebe Greenberg, Phyllis Laing, Penny Mancuso
with Louis Negin, Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Mathieu Amalric, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani, Jacques Nolot, Slimane Dazi, Noel Burton, Udo Kier, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling
release US Jan.15 sff, UK Oct.15 lff
15/Canada 2h10
The Forbidden Room
Looking for a lover: Dupuis

amalric chaplin rampling
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Forbidden Room Canadian maestro Guy Maddin once again uses his vintage-collage style to assemble a film that's a feast for the senses, playing with imagery and sound to tell a series of stories within stories within stories. Unlike his other work, this film has a splintered narrative that's not always easy to connect with. But it's cinematic magic.

From a man (Negin) discussing the pleasures of taking a bath, the story shifts to the crew of a submarine searching for their lost captain when a mysterious woodsman (Dupuis) appears. He has his own story about his lover (Fuery), who has been kidnapped by a Wolf (Burton). Each person who appears opens a rabbit hole that delves into yet another tale of love and death, pain and pleasure, dreams and reality. The title refers to the location of the missing captain (also Burton), a room beyond a room beyond a room.

Amnesia is a running theme here, as people push difficult memories away, usually subconsciously. Some sequences are silent, others burst with lurid sound. One unfolds like a deranged music video, one is in stark black and white, and all of them are accompanied by trailer-style captions that proclaim riotous emotions and urgent facts ("Squid theft! Punishable by death!"). Visually, the film is sumptuous, designed to look like a collage of old movie footage

The actors portray multiple characters, each announced with a title card, including a man (Kier) obsessed with a woman's (Chaplin) derriere, a writer (Dazi) who hires an escapee (Nolot) to help around the farm, a doctor (Ahmarani) who heals the broken bones of an adventurer (Dhavernas) then is kidnapped by a gang of "Women Skeletons!", and a man (Amalric) who gets caught in a web of his own deceptions. There's also a trial by volcano.

Maddin's films are always florid and hypnotic, and this is perhaps his most ambitious work yet. Fragmented into a nesting-doll structure of fateful encounters, this is like a celebration of movie history. Although none of these disconnected and jarring mini-dramas carries a particularly strong emotional kick, the film dances in front of our eyes, drawing us into its magical world. And in the final section, all of the stories build to an orgiastic climax of love and death. All of this is rather exhausting, and more than a little bit nuts. But it's also utterly wonderful.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 21.Sep.15

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