Four Rooms

Four Rooms

Four Rooms

 

Four Rooms

1995. Directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino.

A comic anthology held together by a wonderful performance from the criminally underrated Tim Roth, Four Rooms is a stinking, dirty romp.  

Taking place on New Year's Eve in the dilapidated Hotel Mon Signor, rookie bell hop Ted(not Theodore) begins his first shift with a pep talk from his aged predecessor on the dangers of his profession.  Ignoring every single piece of advice, Ted (not Theodore) encounters a coven of witches, a bizarre marital dispute, wily youngsters, and an alcohol drenched celebrity reenactment of Alfred Hitchcock.  

Roth's ability to maneuver between slapstick and sleazy avarice is the entire film.  The first segment with the witches is the weakest as Roth is sadly absent for the majority of the action.  Things course correct with the second tale, The Wrong Man, which throws Roth into a hilarious love triangle with the great Jennifer Beals and the B movie titan David Proval.  Rockwell's trashy dialogue feels right at home with the moldering wall paper and overflowing ashtrays of the Mon Signor.  The children actors of the third segment steal the show and their gut busting interactions with Roth create the film's most memorable scene involving a syringe and the corpse of a prostitute (don't you dare call her a whore!).  The final segment is vintage Tarantino while also being his most candid statement about his style of film making.  The celebrities are attempting to simulate an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode which simulated Roald Dahl's The Man From the South and Tarantino's unabashed approach is a self deprecating triumph, featuring a brazen profanity laced cameo by an uncredited Bruce Willis.  

The scripts, each written by the directors are devious fun, but it's the way they are threaded together that shines. The film editing, particularly by Sally Menke in The Misbehavers is what allows Roth's bellhop to incoherently wander into the mayhem with a cocky sense of naivete.  The timeline is non-linear and part of the fun is deciphering the (admittedly easy) clues as to what is happening where and when.   

Available now on Amazon Prime, Four Rooms was a critical disaster that has thankfully become a cult favorite for fans of throwaway cinema.  Tim Roth's stellar turn elevates what would otherwise be an easily forgettable affair into outright naughty euphoria.  Offering little substance in a second hand store presentation, Four Rooms is the kind of film that when it's on, you stop and watch just for the insanity on display.   A remnant of the post Pulp Fiction era in which countless films tried to find the same magic, Tarantino himself delivers a hilarious self critique that makes Four Rooms worth a view.

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