Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Roman – Review

Roman – Review

Oct 1, 2012

reviewed by Skot
directed by Angela Bettis, 2006

In 2002, Lucky McKee directed Angela Bettis in May about a troubled young woman who is excruciatingly lonely and obsessed with finding true love.  In 2006, McKee and Bettis traded roles for the unsettling picture, Roman.  McKee wrote the screenplays for both films.

Roman (Lucky McKee) has a mind-numbing job with mind-numbed coworkers.  He doesn’t usually say much but listening to the drivel of his coworkers, it’s not hard to understand why someone once quipped that silence is golden.  Each monotonous day after the next, he returns to his Spartan apartment and stares at the wall.  One day, to mix things up, he uses cigarette ash to draw the outline of a television on the wall to pretend to watch it.  Every day, at the same time, his cute neighbor (Kristen Bell) walks past his apartment and lovesick Roman makes a point of watching her collect her mail.  Only she can make him smile.  Consumed with romantic sexual fantasies, Roman’s day revolves around those five minutes when he can catch a glimpse of dream girl walking past.  It’s a fine line between infatuation and creepy obsession.  This story of a social misfit almost becomes a sweet romance when things take a turn for the worse, and then a turn for the macabre.  Guilt, obsession and brutal isolation drive him straight downtown to crazy town.

In his fantastical imaginings of dream girl, he gives her the name Isis which is fitting both since Isis is the Egyptian goddess who represented the ideal wife and mother but also because of the how the name sounds like the word “ice.”  You’ll see what I mean.  The myth of Isis also includes the topic of dismemberment.

Pulling him back from the brink of complete lunacy is his encounter with another pretty girl in his apartment complex.  Eva, played by Nectar Rose (her real name) is an artistic Mother Nature sprite of a girl whose enchanting free spirit gives Roman another shot at sanity and happiness.  On the outside, Eva is a walking personification of a literal garden of delights, but there’s a serpent in her tree.  Roman finds that Eva harbors secret shadows of her own.  On their first date, they catch a performance of Hedda Gabler, a play about suicide.  “Isn’t it beautiful?” Eva moons.  Oh yes, the girl has issues.

The first dream girl, “Isis,” was never really a true person for Roman.  She was nothing more than a collection of pretty parts he desired to possess.  With Eva, things are different.  She breaks the spell of Isis and makes him fall in love with her as a person, complexities and all.

Roman is a romantic, obsessed with his own twisted version of romance.  Lucky McKee plays the lead perfectly.  Even though he’s completely bonkers, I couldn’t help but sympathize with him.  There are moments of sweetness in the story, moments when you root for Roman to find true love with one of his dream girls.  Just when you think he’s emerging from madness to a real normal life, everything gets flushed down the toilet.  Roman is a strange love story populated with badly damaged, though not unrecognizable, people.  It’s a heartbreaking little movie that I appreciate more every time I watch it.  (There’s a really bizarre little music video that exemplifies the off-beat scary sadness of the film that I couldn’t erase from my brain.  Just look up Burro Boy on Google.  You can thank me later.)

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