Film Review: The Forbidden Room

Guy Maddin has managed to forge himself a position in modern cinema as one of the most unique film makers around. There’s no mistaking a Maddin – his penchant for recreating the look and feel of silent and early-sound-era film has permeated his entire career. On his new venture, The Forbidden Room, the Canadian director teams up with Evan Johnson to create possibly his best and most experimental work yet.

The official synopsis describes The Forbidden Room as: “A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.” It’s impossible to summarise and this is as close as you’ll get. In essence, it’s a Russian doll of a film; stories within layers, layers within stories.

It’s breathtaking to see this kind of cinema being made and it’s a pure joy to watch. There’s no real linear narrative so don’t expect to closely follow precisely what’s going on. The Forbidden Room occasionally emerges from fever dream and opium reverie, but for the most part it feels like a continuous strain of consciousness from an addled mind. It’s wholly unique, and whilst it may frustrate those seeking light entertainment, entirely immersing yourself in this pure cinematic experience will reap rich rewards.

The Forbidden Room is out in cinemas this weekend.

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