Film Review of 'Love Gets a Room'
Love Gets a Room (2023) is one of those rare films which adeptly delves into the theater world and everything it takes to make a work of art and also gets at the dangers and horrors of war. Set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, Love Gets a Room tells the story of a Jewish acting group putting on a musical comedy play while chaos and violence reign around them. When one of the play's stars, Stefcia, is told moments before the premiere that she has the chance to escape the ghetto but be separated from her love forever, the ninety-minute run of the play becomes filled with added existential drama. Based on the true story of a real-life production put on in the Warsaw Ghetto, Love Looks for an Apartment ('Miłość Szuka Mieszkania') by Jerzy Jurandot, Director Rodrigo Cortés uses his thriller background to create a truly compelling and entrancing story of love and freedom.

Rodrigo Cortés’ Direction: Though this work may seem alien to fans of Cortés’ other works, it contains many familiar throughlines that make the movie worthwhile. Cortés is most famous for his films, Buried, a thriller about a man buried alive in a coffin who has very little time to escape, starring Ryan Reynolds, as well as the more recent Down a Dark Hall, a horror film about eerie disturbances at a girl’s boarding school. While Love Gets a Room focuses more on romance than it does on the supernatural, Cortés creates thrills at every turn. Told in real-time, similar to Buried, Cortés shoots almost continuously creating the sense that there is a ticking time bomb waiting for our protagonists. His Hitchcockian tactics not only make this romance between Stefcia and Edmund one we can swoon, for but keeps the issue of their fate at the forefront of our minds. The brutality of the German soldiers and the quiet resistance of the audience members grounds this romance, which in the hands of another director would turn into a melodramatic mess.

The Play’s The Thing: The romance and drama of this period piece are accentuated by the script's juxtaposition of the events of the play and the behind-the-scenes tension. It’s stranger than fiction that amidst all this bloodshed, people would think to put on a comedy, but it’s true. Though Cortés and his actors were not there to witness it, they create an exciting commentary on art as a form of escapism, versus art as a mirror to society. Should they be putting on a musical comedy? If so, should they include references to their actual circumstances? It’s a poignant question to pose considering Stefcia, played beautifully by Danish actress Clara Rugaard, must ask herself if it is better to escape the ghetto or stay and fight. In this small theater, life imitates art and vice versa. The movie works best cutting between the play’s comedic scenes detailing the dilemmas of two people who desperately want to leave their significant other for each other and Stefcia’s internal struggle in deciding whether to stay or go. Unfortunately, in the moments where the film moves more of its focus to the behind-the-scenes conversation rather than a dialogue between the stage and real life, it loses this fast and exciting pace that the play gives it.

Through brilliant performances by its ensemble cast and the veteran directorial skills of Rodrigo Cortés, Love Gets a Room offers a new take on a time that has been portrayed countless times. Mixing old Hollywood dramas made popular by directors like Billy Wilder or Orson Welles with 21st-century realism gives this film a unique perspective.

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