The Oak Room [Review]

The Oak Room proves that a great and solid script can absolutely make the movie on it’s own. On top of that, that we also need a lot more play adaptations.

In 2013, Toronto had their annual Fringe Festival – a festival dedicated to accesible theatre at cheap prices. Sticking with Toronto, Mirvish shows (our equivalent of Broadway) can cost more than a pretty penny, where Fringe show tickets cost roughly about ten dollars. One of the plays in 2013 was The Oak Room. The playwright Peter Genoway (who gets writing credit) even won the 2013 Toronto Fringe New Play Contest.

This film is one of the fastest 90 minute movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s perfectly edited and super brisk and it makes you want more and more. Again, that’s partially due to the great screenplay and the amazing dialogue that just is constantly flowing throughout the duration of the film.

The film is brilliant for the way they utilize how people tell stories – there’s no real defined way to do so. I know I’ve been one to be about 20 percent in a story before realizing that I may have to pause to stop, rewind, and bring up necessary background information before I can continue. And while that method isn’t necessarily brought up, we do get to hear and watch about 3 very different stories being told in their own way. And we are absolutely entranced as we listen to each of them. And that’s thankful to the cast.

The film takes place on one night – even though we backtrack and see a few other days across time – we are with Steve (RJ Mitte, Breaking Bad) and Paul (Peter Outerbridge, Orphan Black) one night, at a bar, after Paul has closed down his bar. Within moments, we’re informed that there is a lot of tension in the air as Steve never returned home for his own father’s funeral. There’s a lot of things up in the air, and the two seem like they’re moments away attacking one another, but instead, they tell stories. Each one more fascinting than the last, and slowly, they build the narrative and realize it’s a ticking time bomb more than we may have originally thought.

What makes the stories even more enticing, is they all seem to be about pretty similar things. They’re about our relationships with our fathers, and even to small towns. Something that was great was that even though we only see the insides of cars and bars, there were many references to small towns in Ontario, and even highway 11, and that’s not something I typically see in films – even Canadian films.

Jeff Maher as the cinematographer brings such great imagery to the film. Even though we mostly stay inside in one of two bars, at no point do the images that Jeff shoots ever seem boring, but they’re always exciting and fresh.

Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with director Cody Calahan’s previous work, but I’m going to begin to do so. And also hope for more scripts or plays by Peter Genoway.

The film also plays next week, August 31st at 11:30 pm EST. While a late showing, the 90 minutes will absolutely fly by. Buy your tickets for the next show here.