Medem has created a film of rare beauty, intoxicating romanticism and scorching eroticism. The girls spend almost the entire film nude, the camera slowly panning over their warmly lit skin and lingering in loving close-up on the passion-lit faces. To a soundtrack of lush pop music and opera and amidst the classical paintings that cover the walls and comment on the action, the girls engage in games of fabricated identity, only gradually pealing off the layers of fantasy to reveal the often tragic secrets that have made them who they are.
It is perhaps ironic that a film about a relationship between two women should be one that drew me into its story more deeply than any romantic film I can remember, and yet I could identify with both and fell in love with both. What makes the film so powerful is not the sex, erotic as that is, but the by turns playful and compassionate interactions between the women. This is an open spontaneous encounter between two people which necessarily changes them, and it is one which captures the rich joy of life.
The film has the classical beauty of a film by Bertolucci or Visconti, but unlike their best films, which tend to look at the darker side of life, Room in Rome is ultimately, in spite of some powerful moments of angst, a feel-good movie.
The only previous Medem film I've seen was Sex and Lucia (2001) which is another favourite which also featured a supporting role by Elena Anaya, who plays the lesbian in this film. I look forward to catching up with more of the work of this talented Spanish filmmaker.