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Movie Review: Roman

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Way back when in 2002, director Lucky McKee brought the creepy little tale of May. Starring Angela Bettis, May was a tale of loneliness and desperation as May reached out to try and make a friend out of anybody who would listen. The result was a fabulous psychological thriller that left the viewer a bit unnerved and thoroughly creeped by the end.

In 2006, Mckee and Bettis have reunited for the flick Roman, but this time around they've switched roles. Directed by Bettis and starring McKee, Roman is another tale of loneliness. This time around we see loneliness and desperation from the male's point of view with a different result.

McKee plays Roman, a factory worker who is painfully alone. It's not that he's not interested in other people or the fairer sex. Quite the opposite actually. Every day Roman returns home from work and watches forlornly out of his window for the arrival of his neighbor (Yay! Kristen Bell). Feigning an excuse to head to the mailbox, Roman places himself daily in close proximity to his neighbor in hopes she might notice him, yet he lacks the social skills to approach her or to even say hello. One day all that changes and she does happen to take notice. Soon Roman is basking in the attention of the lovely girl next door and his hopes begin to grow for something more. Thinking all is well, Roman makes his move until something goes terribly wrong.

Seeing as this movie is helmed by the same creative forces, it is hard not to review this one without drawing comparisons. They are very similar in scope, differing only in the driver behind the wheel. Looking at the two films in this light I'll flat out say Roman is not as good as May. The first film was something shocking and new at the time backed by relatively unknown staff. We go into Roman with preconceived notions about what to expect and in that light the outcome is somewhat diminished as you are awaiting something far more shocking to out-do the first. That is not to say this isn't a good flick however. It's just different.

Where May's traumatized childhood left her a shy and untrusting shell, Roman comes to us with no background whatsoever. Where the first example shows us how and why our main character became the troubled soul she was, we do not have that with Roman. Roman appears to us seemingly out of nowhere. Faced with a man who is just downright disturbed with no reasoning as to how he became this way, we the viewer are forced to watch a man who is plain and simply broken. Why is he so awkward? How did he come to become so obsessed with this woman? We simply don't know and this is the factor that makes this flick that much more disturbing. At first appearance Roman is a fairly normal young man who looks like everyone else, he just likes to keep to himself. It's not until you find him locked alone in his apartment that he begins to make you squirm. How many people on the street that are just like this do you pass on a daily basis?

This factor is what makes Roman a good flick. This man is disturbed and he radiates this fact. It's not about the jump scares; it's not about fast-paced music video cuts. It's all about the slow boil and making you squirm in your seat, and at this they succeed. When we finished viewing the flick I was a bit put off. Parts were slow and dragging, some just outright repetitive. In hindsight, after it had time to sink in, it became apparent that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do, showcasing the life of a man sinking into insanity. Looking back in that light and the fact that it still creeps me out two weeks later means a job well done. Kudos to Bettis and McKee for doing it all over again.

3.5 loving psychopaths out of 5.

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