It’s immensely frustrating that The Immaculate Room comes so close to being something truly captivating and unique. The premise is intriguing, the cast is on point, and some individual moments really sing. However, slack pacing, a mix of speeding through some parts and slagging through others, as well as a sense that the whole thing is missing an extra layer, and it’s hard not to be a little disappointed. About a third of the way in, you’re convinced this film is going to be great. Towards the end, you’re worried it’s gone off the deep end. By the conclusion, it has recovered somewhat, but just slightly below where it needs to be in order to warrant a recommendation.
The Immaculate Room is anchored by strong acting, that’s for sure. At the same time, the filmmaking doesn’t support them nearly enough. The flick feels like the first draft of something special. That keeps it from being anywhere near a bad movie, but the film truly seems like one big missed opportunity for a memorable cinematic experience. The acting is the exception, but it’s simply not quite enough.
For couple Kate (Kate Bosworth) and Michael (Emile Hirsch), a contest known as The Immaculate Room holds major appeal. Should they successfully isolate themselves in a large empty white room for 50 days, they’ll win five million dollars. There’s no phones, no contact with the outside world, and the most sparse of sustenance. Should one of them leave, the prize money drops to one million. Should they both leave, they get nothing. They seem like an ideal couple, but in short order, their struggles and personal demons emerge, fracturing what clearly is a far more fragile relationship. About midway through, things are bad, but they’re about to get worse.
As the two struggle in their solitude, the room begins to test them in other ways, including messages from loved ones, as well as a “treat” in the arrival of a nude actress (Ashley Greene). Secrets are revealed, tensions escalate, and it becomes clear that there’s a good chance of at least someone failing, perhaps with dire consequences. The room wants to break their resolve, but are they strong enough to endure?
Kate Bosworth and Emile Hirsch are the highlights, without question. Both get to sell the trauma bubbling just beneath the surface of their characters. Bosworth gets caught up in more of the mild thriller elements, while Hirsch is the center of the more psychological aspects. For both, it’s among their best recent work, for sure. As for Ashley Greene, she’s fine, but also kind of an afterthought. The tiny supporting cast also includes a very small role for M. Emmet Walsh, but it’s 100% all about Bosworth and Hirsch here.
Filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil has big ideas here, but his execution is all over the place. Dewil directs this fairly simply, and is right to focus on Bosworth and Hirsch, but has a great concept that’s only half developed. Little mentions of who created the room do nothing, while any accountability for what goes on is avoided. The contest is no secret, but considering some of the things that go on, it’s impossible to believe that it would be allowed. Either a move towards the more extreme or a greater sense of realism probably was needed for The Immaculate Room to succeed.
The Immaculate Room should have been better, frankly. Kate Bosworth and Emile Hirsch deliver strong work and the premise is very intriguing, but it’s not enough to make the film any less frustrating or messy. Another pass on the script, one that expanded on the elements that needed expanding on, and this movie really could have been something. Alas.