Sunday 10 April 2011

Today's Review: Chatroom

I haven't been in a chat room since I was about 13. I was pretty sure they'd been erased from mainstream existence on the internet due to them being entirely populated by paedophiles and people trying to catch paedophiles. But along comes Chatroom, a movie based on, you guessed it, chat rooms.

So let's say chat rooms are still relevant. The movie is based off a play that was written about seven years ago, so we'll go with the flow. And it turns out that once you get into it, this is a pretty good movie. Aaron Johnson (the guy who played Kick-Ass) stars as William, a guy who starts a chat room called "Chelsea Teens" and sees the arrival of the rest of the cast. Seeing as a movie about several teenagers typing on computers could look a bit boring, Chatroom employs a great visual representation of the online world. There's a vast corridor full of people, with doors offshooting into the various rooms. Inside they are decorated to suit the theme, and chairs are set out AA meeting style so that all the conversations can take place. We also see the characters' lives outside the chat room, but the good bits take part in the virtual rooms themselves. William especially displays great emotion and rapport, but it's clear from his real life scenes that he's actually nothing like that. That's the great thing about Chatroom. You get so drawn into how the characters are behaving over the internet that it's a harsh snap back to reality when you realise how fake it all is.

But back to the story. William has had several visitors to his new chat room, so he starts making a lovely speech about how they should add a little flavour into their lives and misbehave. One girl does so promptly by rubbing dog shit on her parent's car, 'cause she hates her parents for some reason. William "helps" the other members too, but has a particular interest in Jim (Matthew Beard), a reclusive chap who has some deep seated issues. All the teens have their own problems, and they actually all seem quite interesting at first, but the ensemble cast quickly gives way to the interactions between William and Jim, focusing on what William really has in store for him, because, you guessed it, he's not quite how he seems.

The relationship between William and Jim is pretty electrifying to watch, Johnson and Beard handle the roles perfectly, and there's some genuinely emotional moments. I got a real rush of adrenaline towards the end as the story built up to its finale. The only real quibble I had is that the other characters kind of got left behind halfway through the movie, and I would have really liked their lives and problems explored a bit more. As it is though, with the amount of time focused on William and Jim, the other characters seemed unnecessary, and in all honesty I would have gladly forgone the others so more time could have been spent exploring what they were doing and their motives behind their actions.

Still, Chatroom is definitely worth a watch. It's definitely jumping on the popularity of "single room" movies that has exploded of late, but in the case of this genre, the British can handle it best, Exam was also a great British single room movie, so check that out too. And before you tell me that the movie was directed by Hideo Nakata, I know that, but i'm trying to say how British people rock, so shut up.

My rating: 4/5

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