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.
In THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, Mathieu Amalric undresses Udo Kier’s corpse while a record skips for like 4 or 45 minutes. Highly recommended.
— Eric Hynes (@eshynes) January 27, 2015
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM: Baths. Flapjacks. Aswang. Janus. As intellectually and aesthetically challenging movie I’ve ever seen. #Sundance
— Sam Fragoso (@SamFragoso) January 27, 2015
Weirdly satisfying to have 1/3 of the audience flee from THE FORBiDDEN ROOM. Like being left to your own weirdness in the TV room.
— Eric Hynes (@eshynes) January 26, 2015
There are roughly 650 gloriously insane ideas in Guy Maddin’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM per person who walked out of its world premiere
— Robert Greene (@prewarcinema) January 26, 2015
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM: Guy Maddin’s Inception, a loving, layered barrel roll into genre history. Vivid, hysterical, trippy as hell. #Sundance
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) January 26, 2015
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM: Squid Theft! Forced to Wear a Leotard! Either Guy Maddin’s Lost Highway or his Too Many Cooks. #Sundance
— Sam Adams (@SamuelAAdams) January 26, 2015