Release Date: February 4, 2011
Director: Christian E. Christiansen
Writer: Sonny Mallhi
Stars: Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester and Cam Gigandet
MPAA Rating: PG-13
There is absolutely no reason to see The Roommate.
The directing and acting are nothing special and the plot is disjointed, boring and unoriginal. In fact, unoriginal is putting it mildly – there isn’t a single scene that you haven’t already seen done better in another film. It’s a complete waste of time.
Mostly, the film is a cheap imitation of Single White Female. Like that film, there is an attractive female lead living with a mentally-unbalanced roommate who develops an unhealthy obsession with her. In this film, the protagonist is a college freshman named Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) living in a dorm with her deranged roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester).
The film starts off on the wrong foot by throwing too many balls up in the air at once. A variety of different subplots are introduced early on, but most of them simply crop up as excuses for Rebecca to feel either neglected by or overly protective of Sara, which causes her to do something crazy (like falsely claiming she was attacked by a stranger in order to get Sara’s attention or pretending to be Sara on the phone when her ex-boyfriend calls). The story quickly becomes overcrowded with all of these different subplots, so most of them are quickly abandoned after a few scenes.
The most frustrating abandoned plotline is when Sara decides to spend Thanksgiving with Rebecca and her family. At first, this seems like this setup will provide the audience with some background and insight into why Rebecca is the way she is, but the information given is incredibly vague and is never further elaborated on. The sequence ends up creating more questions than it answers and the film never bothers to return to any of these questions.
(Side note: One other subplot thrown in for absolutely no reason is that Sara gets a part-time job at a coffee shop. Unintentionally, writer Sonny Mallhi depicts her as the worst employee ever – all she does while on the clock is flirt with her boyfriend and take personal phone calls. We only ever see her attempt to make one drink, which she spills all over the place. And we find out that she uses her employee status to get her boyfriend’s crappy band booked at the coffee shop.)
As the film winds down and sheds all of the various subplots introduced in the beginning, it just starts stealing heavily from Single White Female. The most blatant rip-off is when Rebecca dresses up like Sara in order to trick her ex-boyfriend while he is in bed. The climax of film is also strikingly similar to the one presented in Single White Female.
The acting in The Roommate ranges from bland to downright awful. Leighton Meester has a few good creepy moments as Rebecca, but for the most part her performance is too over the top. Cam Gigandet, who plays Sara’s love interest in the film, spends the whole film mugging for the camera with a series of ridiculous facial expressions. Even Billy Zane, who plays Sara’s professor, seems like he is mailing in his performance. Minka Kelly is actually pretty good as Sara – she manages to make the character charming and likable – but she isn’t given much help from her supporting cast or the script.
Director Christian E. Christiansen (who fittingly has the least creative name in Hollywood) makes several really distractingly bad decisions in the way the film is shot. At one point, he tilts the camera 90 degrees while a character walks down a hallway (which I think was supposed to convey uneasiness, but just ended up making me feel slightly nauseous). To attempt to express romance or passion, Christiansen uses extreme close-ups that focus on random body parts – an actor’s eyes or lips or hands. A major fight sequence at the end of the film is so badly shot and edited together that it is impossible to tell what is happening during it.
The film as a whole is just a mess. There is really nothing redeeming about it. If you have any interest in seeing this, just go rent Single White Female instead.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.