7 Days of May: Day 5 - Roman
We get a little bit of a role reversal for the next installment of our special event celebrating the work of Angela Bettis.
By M.T. Bates
Roman might be the most interesting movie we discuss during this week-long event for the fact that Angela Bettis does not star in it. In fact, she’s not even in the movie. Angela and Lucky Mckee decided to switch roles for this film, which means Angela is behind the camera in the director's chair while Lucky takes on the title role, so this overview is going to play out a little differently than our previous installments. Since I can’t critique her character, I’ll be focusing in on the overall direction of the film instead.
Right from the start, this film begins like a student film with no context, an odd soundtrack, and some weird cuts and framing. The first five minutes are very peculiar as we learn a little bit about Roman and his tendencies, and it doesn’t even seem like his coworkers know much about him either. He is very much a loner, allowing a first-time director to have some fun exploring and developing a single character without a whole lot getting in the way. Throughout the film, Angela only has two characters to be unraveled.
Roman is shown almost immediately to have a fascination with his blonde neighbor, Isis, always creepily admiring her from a distance and having visions about her. The soundtrack makes itself noticeable as it sets a very different atmosphere than you would expect. The framing and cuts continue to make the movie look very low budget, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This film goes for a very unique and distinct style; it just takes some time to understand what it is going for.
An odd friendship begins to develop between Roman and Isis, but that quickly spirals into something a bit more vicious. The transitions in this film happen at very random times, usually not making much sense as to their purpose. Roman is very much a Lucky Mckee character (he did write the film) so him playing the title character only makes sense. Roman however, isn’t the only unnatural character, as this film is full of them.
Inner dialogue and funky transitions make up a decent portion of this film, making everything just seem out of place. None of the characters feel natural or real, but rather over-the-top. These are the kind of characters that don’t seem like they would ever exist outside of a movie, apart from Isis. A film like this really makes it easy to suspend disbelief, especially after a second beautiful woman, Eva, shows an interest in Roman, a man who in the real world would have very few women drawn to him.
Roman takes a weird turn in the middle of the film, naturally ushered in with another inspired music choice. The odd cuts and transitions actually really help convey the inner turmoil Roman is going through. None of it makes sense in the beginning, but eventually you begin to understand that they are representations of how he goes through life. If you haven’t guessed by now, the film’s on-going theme is that it really throws you for a loop. Being confused as to what is going on with these characters and the story is done purposely for the eventual payoff.
Eva and Roman form an unlikely relationship, as Roman is quiet and awkward while Eva is more of a chatterbox on a whole different level of awkward. Something seems extra off about Eva almost immediately with how enamored she is over Roman, for seemingly no reason. Transitions and montage scenes continue to be the driving force on how this story is told. It’s a strange direction to take that gives the film an arthouse feel as it closes in on the end.
7 Days of May: Day 3 - Sick Girl
Our week-long celebration of the work of Angela Bettis continues with a look at Sick Girl.
The shifting tones on how Roman feels keeps you on your toes. Eventually, Roman turns into a pseudo-tragic character when him and Eva have an odd falling out. It’s one of those build-ups and scenes that is hard to describe. Seeing it makes more sense, but nothing about this movie makes much sense. The characters and the story play out as some ethereal fever dream, unlike any movie I have seen before.
The final scene brings the movie together in a way that it feels like the only real scene in the movie. Roman losing what he thought he understood shows that the self-imposed punishment he thought was over was instead only just beginning, which further establishes him as a tragic villain. The overall style of the film may turn off a lot of people who don’t give it enough time to fully develop, but Roman delivers a fun and interesting experience nonetheless.
This movie has a fun filming style and interesting female characters that overshadow the title character, along with a great soundtrack.
The whole world seems extremely unrealistic, albeit purposely, with not a single likable male character.
Angela Rating: 7/10
Throughout the film, you could tell it was the effort of a first time director exploring all the facets of that role, while still making an overall enjoyable film, despite being largely surrounded by unlikable male characters. The arthouse indie film style meshes perfectly with the unrealistic world Roman lives in. It takes a while to piece it all together but it eventually comes full circle. Angela thought outside the box with her directorial debut in making a movie that won’t be for everyone, but has a unique flare which can be appreciated by most.
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