Movie Review – Chatroom (2010)

Director: Hideo Nakata

Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Imogen Poots, Matthew Beard, Hannah Murray, Daniel Kaluuya, Megan Dodds, Michelle Fairley, Jacob Anderson, Richard Madden, Tuppence Middleton

If you notice the cast, this may seem like a breeding ground for Game of Thrones. Chatroom is a film about the dangers of online bullying. On a chat website William (Taylor-Johnson) sets up a group called ‘Chelsea Teens’, and four local people all around the same age join up. There’s Eva (Poots), a model who envies her co-workers, Mo (Kaluuya) who has a crush on his friend’s 11 year old sister, Emily (Murray) who feels neglected by her parents and Jim (Beard) who is struggling with depression and can’t escape his feelings of abandonment. Little do they know that they are all being manipulated by William, who is acting out his twisted desires by preying on the vulnerable psyches of lonely people looking for a friend.

The style of this film is really cool. I loved the disparity between the real world and the online chat rooms, and the way it represented how people present/perceive themselves online. Through William we also get a look at some of the other rooms of the website and there’s some disturbing stuff, which highlights the seedier aspects of the Internet (although I am sure there are worse thins out there than what is seen in this film). The acting was strong and Taylor-Johnson played the charismatic, but damaged, character well. Beard was good too and conveyed the heartbreak and difficulties of his character. The others, well, here’s the thing. At the start there are five people in the chat room and they all have their own problems, and the group is set up so they can have a refuge away from their ordinary lives and help each other out. However, Eva, Mo and Emily are basically discarded and the film becomes totally about the relationship between William and Jim.

The two of them had the strongest stories but the others had subplots that were introduced and were not given satisfactory resolutions, so although it comes to a definite conclusion Chatroom doesn’t feel finished.

I was engaged by it though and there were some parts that were very difficult to watch as I’m aware that things like that do actually happen and it did well at playing on my sensitivities. I’m disappointed that most of the characters were shunted aside, but Chatroom still has a lot going for it. The style is good, the actors are talented and I loved the portrayal of the online realm. I think it’s still a relevant film and it’s worth a watch.

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