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DVD Review - @SuicideRoom

by Henk Harskamp in Films & Books , 19 april 2012


An Emo Kid Obsessed By A Dark Virtual World In ‘@SuicideRoom’

After the review “A Comic Book As Weapon In The Fight Against Bullying And Suicide” by Julian Beyle (Gay News 246), I was asked to write about the Polish movie “@SuicideRoom” (original title: “Sala Samobójców”), the motion picture debut of the young Polish director Jan Komasa (1981).


At the press conference of the Berlinale 2011 the director (who also wrote the scenario) said the story was created from earlier, short scenarios dealing with: 1) Games – based on a game Komasa often played; 2) Exams – about a boy locking himself up in his room to avoid having to do them; 3) Family – about troublesome family relations. All these themes were combined and this is how the movie “@SuicideRoom” came to be.

The special thing about “@SuicideRoom” is the use of animation. About twenty minutes of the two-hour movie is animated and it fits the storyline perfectly.


Main character is Dominique, a pupil getting ready to do his final exams in a hundred days. He’s attending an elite school and is doing fairly well. He’s got friends, looks self-assured and practices judo.

He becomes aware of his feelings towards guys when he kisses with his friend Alex “for fun” at a school party. This is filmed and put on Internet; Dominique still thinks this is funny. When Alex straddles him with judo however, he notices Dominique’s erection and even feels how he climaxes.

From that moment on he’s the focus of gossip and ridicule via social media. He develops an obsession with auto-mutilation. His parents don’t notice anything. They are busy with their careers, often away from home and very attached to their social status. When they try to match him with a girl, he tells them he prefers guys. To illustrate his words, he starts to kiss the statue of a man right in front of them. His mother refuses to accept it though, and his father is mainly worried how it will affect their social status.




Via Internet Dominique meets a certain Sylvia and she invites him to come to @SuicideRoom. He decides to go and have a look. Upon entrance he’s asked to choose an avatar and at that moment the movie changes to animation and Dominique disappears into the virtual world.

Reality and computer animation flow into each other from then on. (An erotic scene with Sylvia hints at the possibility Dominique is bisexual even though he profiles himself as gay, but as fantasy and reality mix this remains unclear.)





From the moment Dominique is in contact with Sylvia he retreats further and further in his room behind the computer. Soon it’s clear he’s addicted to Internet and his contacts in @SuicideRoom. But Sylvia doesn’t seem to be able to help Dominique. To the contrary, she seems to take him closer to self-destruction.

After an attempted suicide his parents call on a psychiatrist. They’d like to have their son medicated, so he could still take his exams. When the psychiatrist refuses, he’s sent away and replaced by one who willingly writes out prescriptions.

Only when his father disconnects the Internet, Dominique comes out of his room. He’s desperate and pleads with his parents to restore the connection, but they refuse.

For the first time they seem to talk in the family and for a minute you think everything might work out after all... but then that terrible ending!


At the press conference Komasa explained that it would be a nightmare for him if someone committed suicide and they would find a poster of this movie on the kids’ wall. He says he chose a dramatic finale hoping that it frightens people off and makes them choose life.

Does the movie offer answers? No. It puts the issues of social exclusion and bullying on the agenda though. Youngsters suffering from this, and those who walk around with thoughts of suicide will not find comfort here, especially because of the ending. So the film is above all a warning against Internet addiction, the dangers of preferring a virtual world to the real one.

“@SuicideRoom” will be released on DVD in March and will be available at Amazon.com.






 

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