Green Room – 2016

Written and Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner

Green Room is an escalating nightmare movie. We’ve seen plenty of these in the past, but none of them done  in this way. It’s a good film. It covers ground with people that we don’t want to associate with. The band is so raw, you can almost smell them. Their music isn’t particularly good, and they are definitely on the road to nowhere.

Starting out, they steal some gas just to get to an out of the way town to be interviewed and then do a show for a radio guy they did not know was fired at the time. To compensate, the interviewer gives them an address and the name Daniel. Well, since they are in the area.

They show up and find that they are doing a show for Neo Nazis. After the show, one of the band members forgets her cell phone in the green room and Pat (Yelchin) volunteers to go pick it up. What he finds immediately places both him and the rest of the band in danger. They end up locked up in the green room with a gun after making an emergency call.

It’s at this point the joint’s owner named Darcy (Stewart) shows up. He concocts a plan to turn the cops away. The he begins some aggressive negotiations with the band.

What happens from here alternates from desperate plans to absolute carnage and back to planning. Then more carnage. How and why Darcy needs this to end is for the viewer to decide, but one can guess it’s not so they can clear up the place for the next Log Cabin Republicans meeting.

Stewart masters the scene in a cool, business like manner. He knows it’s going to be bad, but it really is logic more than anything that guides his hand. As much as Patrick Stewart is in on a yearly basis, he really doesn’t do enough. The man is a supreme skill and talent.

Poots piles on the weird chick vibe, but her character overcomes a dumb haircut, driven by the events from a sort of hysteria to survival mode through the chaos. Taking what she knows and putting it together with willing survivors when they need to know it. She gives the film some grist it really needs.

Saulnier is a smart and sober storyteller. He doesn’t pull any punches and definitely does not pretty anything up for the camera. His sensibility is not going to warm anyone’s hearts, but he definitely knows how entertaining playing it straight can be.

Yelchin gives a vulnerably heroic performance as a guy who has no idea what he’s in for, but he has to learn fast. It’s an unusual type of lead performance. Why that is, you have to discover for yourself. The movie is put over the top by his nervous energy. The world will miss his presence, ability and beauty.

(**** out of *****)

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