Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Green Room

Title: Green Room
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Released: 2015
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Plot: The Ain’t Rights are a struggling Punk band travelling through the Pacific Northwest, though when a gig falls through they are offered a gig playing at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar deep in the Oregon woods. However when their bass player Pat (Yelchin) accidently witnesses a murder in one of the back rooms, the band find themselves confined to the club’s green room while their captives plot to make them disappear.

Review: Patrick Stewart has an approach when it comes to reading potential scripts, were if a script fails to hold his interest after the first couple of pages he will read it on his computer. However if it does grab him he will print it out and read it in his armchair as he revealed in an interview for the film. However after reading the script he found himself so shook up by what he had read he locked up his house, set the security alarm and poured himself a large scotch. Having seen the film its certainly easy to say why as this might be possibly one of the most tense movies I have seen in a very long time and seeing how this is the kind of film best watched blind I will now urge you to stop reading here and come back once you’ve seen it or risk spoilers which potentially lie ahead.

I don’t think that anyone who saw Director Jeremy Saulnier’s black comedy debut “Murder Party” could have predicted the path his career has taken and despite releasing the critically acclaimed “Blue Ruin” before this film it was instead the prospect of seeing Patrick Stewart playing a neo-Nazi which initially attracted me to this film but despite several of my fellow bloggers recommending this film I don’t think I was expecting to get a film as good as we get here.

Introduced to our group of slumming punk rockers who are now at the point where they have to sleep in their van and siphon gas to make it to their next gig, often playing in front of miniscule crowds as seen by the spontaneous gig they are forced to hold in a backwood diner in front of a crowd totalling ten people, two of which are just trying to have their breakfast. Needless to say they jump at the chance of playing a proper gig despite their initial reservations of playing a skinhead bar. Its during their opening rendition of the Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck off” that you’d expect to be the catalyst for the band getting in trouble but instead they manage to win over their hosts and are pretty much out the door when they of course stumble across the murder thanks to a forgotten mobile phone that their issues really start.

Its a real mixed cast of known and unknown actors assembled here though somehow this doesn’t show in the film as every member of the cast really brings something to the film, with Alia Shawkat here continuing her assention as an indie starlet making me want to draw comparisons to the career path of Joseph Gordon Levitt as I can’t help but feel in the coming years that she is going to be an actress we are all going to be wanting to talk about as only further reinforced by her supporting role here as guitarist Sam.

What only further helps the film is Saulnier’s seeming refusal to abide to the usual sterotypes and conventions when crafting his characters here as while the band might be punkers there’s not a mohawk or leather jacket to be found. Equally with the neo-Nazi’s they are from the the dumb racist nuckle draggers that we have come to expect from these kinds of characters instead they are shown as being organised with the so-called true believers being identified by their red laces who are more than willing to do anything to protect their group.

Seeing how Patrick Stewart was my main draw to the film, the performance he gives here is well beyond anything I expected as here he plays the Skinhead leader Darcy. A truly monsterous creation who hides a ruthlessly cold and calculating side under his soft spoken front which plays perfectly when he’s initially introduced with this air of mystery to him and shown seemingly willing to negotiate with the band to try and resolve the situation only to reveal his true intentions when he has the advantage. There is of course a real thrill in seeing a classically trained actor like Stewart playing such a villainous role as he snarl derogatory remarks while constantly holding command over his loyal followers without once raising his voice or losing his cool over the quickly escalating situation.

The real shocking aspect of the film is in the violence which is often without warning and frequently bloody as we get to see Yelchin’s arm slashed to spaghetti by unseen attackers leaving him to tape up his arm with duct tape. We also get a torso opened up by a box cutter, numerous stabbing and dog attacks aswell as a number of other gory highlights. At the same time it should be noted that while the violence is frequently bloody and explict, it is never without justification or senseless as Saulnier carefully plots out each moment of violence to maximum effect as especially seen by the number of cast members who are suddenly killed off with zero warning about their impending demise.

The real strength of the film here is how Saulnier has managed to craft a film with genuine tension, while its locations being largely to the club and its exterior only adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere which refused to ease up over the brief runtime, avoiding moments of comedy or even the prospect of rescue for the band as he remains stubbornly fixed on making the viewer watch the band try and escape from this situation they find themselves in.

Sadly hampered by a limited release in theatres this film much like his other two films looks set to be one which audiences will discover through word of mouth promotion or scrolling through Netflix who thankfully have recently added it to their catalogue and meaning that us folks in the UK finally have something worth watching on there. Unquestionably though this is a film which lives up to its hype and more making this a title unquestionably worth hunting down, while of course leaving us eager to see what he does next.

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