By James Burbidge

Country: UK
Certificate: 15
Running time:
Directed by: Hideo Nakata
Featuring: Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots
Released: 22/12/10


Written by Enda Walsh, Chatroom is adapted from his own dark play about the relationships teenagers can form on the Internet. Directed by Ringu’s Hideo Nakata and with a main cast of just 5 characters, Chatroom studies the effects of online relationships people have with those they’ve never met, but to whom they are prepared to confess their darkest secrets. This is the crux of the film, it’s thematic and emotional heart. Whilst parents and real world friends deride these relationships as false and meaningless, to those involved they can seem like the most important human connections in the world.

At first, as these lonely, awkward teenagers open up to each other, there is a sense of burgeoning hope and expectation; despite their diverse lifestyles, here, online, they can form a bond. And yet with that anonymity comes a distance that seemingly detaches them from the consequences of their actions. What seems like well-meant advice might not have the expected results. But influence is a form of power and to these teenagers power is an intoxicating and rare commodity. What seems like misguided counsel seems to take on the form of an experiment, or even something darker.

Their online world is imagined as a vast, decaying hotel, each room functioning as a specific chatroom. The characters claim one room as their own and soon have it password protected and decorated to their taste. Wandering into the seedier side of the internet they find rooms filled with crazed behaviours and practitioners of various sexual fetishes.

Following up on a strong one-two of Nowhere Boy and Kick-Ass Aaron Johnson puts in another powerful performance as the central character, William. Somehow combing a broody sexuality with computer nerd he highlights the disparity between his online power and his offline frustrations. The rest of the young cast put in strong performances and are all British up-and-comers, including Imogen Poots, Matthew Beard and faces familiar from TV’s Skins.

This is an earnest film, told from the passionate and desperately searching point of view of its disenchanted teenage protagonists. Whilst it’s not going to rock any boats, and it feels perhaps a year or two too late, Chatroom is tight, affecting and worth a watch.


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About The Author

James Burbidge James performs a plethora of tasks for Raindance; writing articles, editing the newsletter, managing Twitter, helping on courses, organising volunteers and running the script services are but a few of the ones he is allowed to tell you about.
When he isn’t daydreaming about daylight he watches films (well, duh!) reads a bit, writes a bit and kicks arse at ultimate Frisbee.




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