Film, Thoughts

One-Room Wonders

With the recent release of Roman Polanski’s Carnage, which takes place almost exclusively inside the space of an apartment, it got me thinking about other films with the same concept: all action essentially taking place within four walls, relying on strong characters and no cinematic tropes such as flashbacks. Generally, despite sounding as exciting as levering your finger nails off with a screw driver, these movies end up being fantastic. Here are some examples…

12 Angry Men (1957)

Before he went on to direct Dog Day Afternoon and Network, the late Sidney Lumet’s career kick-started with this 1957 masterpiece of tone, pacing and character. The eponymous dozen find themselves on jury duty, and set to see the end of a supposedly open-and-shut case – but traces of contrary evidence hint otherwise. Drawing on Henry Fonda’s fantastic turn as one of the nameless jurors riding on one of the best scripts Hollywood had seen at the time, there is clearly no need for 12 Angry Men to wander outside its single room.

Rope (1948)

Alfred Hitchcock’s startling colour debut is an incredible tour-de-bluff: two friends murder their ‘inferior’ classmate, hide his body in a box in an apartment, then host a party at said apartment. The same night. Philosophically demanding and dramatically inventive, Hitch’s masterful direction (five long edits slyly cut together to give the impression of one long, film-length shot) made sure Rope was yet another AH smash. It was also the first film that he and Jimmy Stewart did together: the beginning of a lustrous friendship.

Buried (2010)

A lot of people would love to see Ryan Reynolds buried alive. A couple of years back, people paid just the price of a cinema ticket to do so, and most enjoyed themselves: not because they got to watch Reynolds attempting to escape a horrible death, but because Buried was a genuinely great film. The size of a coffin means that the camera doesn’t have much space to move around, but top-notch direction and a committed performance from our much-maligned lead provided ninety-five minutes of finely-tuned, nauseating suspense.

Rear Window (1954)

Seemingly craving more of Rope‘s ‘stagey’ vibe, Hitch went back to the one-room format to create what was a genre-fucking barnstormer of genius. The descent of a mad man, or the slow reveal of the truth? This is the central debate which carried what is possibly Hitchcock’s and Stewart’s finest collaboration – not to mention bouts of masterful suspense from the master of suspense. I’m babbling – just watch it instead.

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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