Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fermat's Room (La habitacion de Fermat, 2007)

The movie psychos are geniuses. They are impeccable masterminds that manipulate an entire city to carry out their evil plan. They are the puppet-masters with infinite access to incredible wealth and technological know-how. Fermat's Room riffs on the same notion that, when needed, a criminal mastermind will devise a plan so devious, it falls to the characters to explain what the hell is going on.

In this case, we have four individuals who also happen to be mathematical geniuses. So, a regular layman or your run-of-the-mill police officer will not even come close to expose the genius behind the riddle. I'm throwing around the word "genius" very liberally, because I wanted to counterbalance its lack in the film itself.

Four master mathematicians are called to a secret meeting at a secret location in the Spanish countryside. The anonymous participants soon find themselves in an immaculately decorated room in an abandoned factory. So far, so good. We are then introduced to the titular Fermat, who happens to be the person that sent out the invitations. However, he seems like an unassuming old chap. After having dinner, Fermat receives a call from the hospital where his brain-dead daughter is. After he leaves, the remaining four receive enigmas through a PDA. If they can't solve them in time, the walls start closing in.

As it usually happens, the guests try to solve the mystery behind Fermat and the room. And, of course, why they are here facing an inevitable death. Along the way certain secrets and connections are revealed between the characters and that's when the film starts a downward spiral that it never recovers from. It is not that the secrets are obvious - they are random at best - but the way they are revealed is utterly pointless. They just tell each other. One secret is exposed, then the camera lingers on another member and he/she reveals his/her secret. That's it. They keep on talking as the walls start moving in.

What was great about Cube and its comparably poorer sequels was that we didn't know who or what was behind the incarceration of these people. It didn't matter. They just had to get out of the Cube, somehow. By explaining, Fermat's Room shoots itself in the foot. Despite its premise, it is one of the stupidest films I have ever seen.

As for the acting ...

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