Saturday, May 02, 2009

5/1/09: Apartment Zero (1988)

A new theme week begins today—one that's been in the planning stages for five years. It was back then that I asked members of an online group called AFCA ( to suggest "underappreciated films" they love but that somehow never captured the widespread acclaim they'd always deserved. Over the years, I have acquired more than a dozen movies from the list they created, and when I launched this One Movie a Day project, I knew that I would have to devote at least one week to their recommendations. And now I have.

The week commences with a movie touted by a woman whose Internet handle is Lesmond. Released in 1988, Apartment Zero tells the story of Adrian (Colin Firth), a prissy, snobbish man with a British accent who is living in Buenos Aires. He is helping care for his mother, who is suffering from dementia, while running a revival movie house that isn't exactly raking in the dough. (I know—the idea that people in Buenos Aires aren't lined up around the block to see movies like Compulsion is a real shocker.) Poor foot traffic at the cinema forces Adrian to look for a roommate—an Oscar to his Felix, and that's his Odd Couple analogy, not mine. After turning down numerous applicants, Adrian takes an instant shine to hunky Jack (Hart Bochner), and without so much as a reference request, accepts him on charm alone. (In his defense, Jack does have exceptional pecs and the world's definitive chin dimple.)

After moving in together, the clearly smitten Adrian begins to dote on Jack and say anything other than what he's really thinking (i.e., "You're adorable!" "Let's make out!" "Where did you get that fabulous top?"). Meanwhile, the mysterious Jack is revealed to be a promiscuous bisexual and very likely a psychopathic murderer, which is frankly the kind of thing that tends to happen when you don't ask your roomie for references. Adrian does a long, slow burn for Jack before finally connecting the dots about the true nature of his companion...but ultimately, both guys are cuckoo for cocoa puffs in their own demented way. Apartment Zero doesn't give the viewer anybody to root for, so who really cares which nutcase gets the upper hand in the final reel? The answer is in the second word of the film title. Rating: 2/5.

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