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‘The Forbidden Room’ Sundance Reviews: Never Mind the Walkouts, Here’s Guy Maddin

'The Forbidden Room' Sundance Reviews: Never Mind the Walkouts, Here's Guy Maddin

Guy Maddin has never been one to court mainstream audiences, but his latest, “The Forbidden Room,” is likely his most challenging and least inviting to general moviegoers yet. The film plays like a collection of every idea Maddin has ever had but never got the chance to use, which Sundance audiences apparently found so alienating that it quickly became this year’s winner of most walkouts. But the critics who stayed through it have praised it as an exhilarating (if sometimes overwhelming) mix of film stocks, forms and styles that’s sure to thrill a certain kind of cinephile. 

Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema

“The Forbidden Room” plays like Kafka through a kaleidoscope, a nightmare fantasy of symphonic proportion, reflecting Maddin’s endlessly beautiful weirdness. As one character cries out prior to a fantastical montage of unforgettable climaxes, the film is indeed a conglomeration of visions, dreams, and madness. Read more.

David D’Arcy, Screen International

The Canadian director Guy Maddin resurrects movie history by revering it and mocking it.  “The Forbidden Room” is a tour de force that takes Maddin’s ambition through a maze of magical melodrama. Even though Maddin’s aesthetic and his appeal come from his films’ journeys into the fragments of commercial cinema of earlier eras, “The Forbidden Room,” like so many of those films, is defiantly uncommercial. Read more.

David Ehrlich, Time Out New York

For all of its innumerable pleasures, however, “The Forbidden Room” can feel like too much of a good thing—premiering at Sundance, Maddin’s latest plays like a robust film festival unto itself. Nevertheless, the stories in “The Forbidden Room” can be so rapturous because they point inwards rather than out, spiraling down the drain of the tub towards a mutual core that is fun to look for but difficult to find. At a time when everyone is talking about the death of the movies, Guy Maddin proves that we can always bring them back to life. Read more.

Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

Maddin has been experimenting with, shall we say, outdated forms for years – from his mock Soviet masterpiece short “The Heart of the World,” to the feature-length surrealist silent “Brand Upon the Brain!” which featured live Foley art and narration. (I was lucky enough to catch the night in New York with Crispin Glover.) Maddin’s zeal for old cameras and stocks is matched only by his revelry in evoking an entire genre with a single image. The film’s apogee literally opens up The Book of Climax in a sequence of pure, knowing cinematic joy. Film-lovers, this ludicrous movie is for you. Read more.

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