You how sometimes you hear or read a story about someone going through a normally unendurable circumstance like prison, or swimming through a waste pipeline to get out of prison? Sometimes the answer generally falls back on something like (paraphrasing) "I knew what the risks were, but it had to be done." Well, I knew what the risks were when it came to The Roommate, the trailer laid everything out rather nicely for goodness sake. Yet after the 91 minutes I still feel insulted and even cheated in what could have been a halfway decent story getting ruined by all involved, including those who wrote this.
Written by Sonny Mallhi (a producer with his first screenwriting credit) and directed by Christian Christiansen (a Danish director in his American directing debut), the roommate in question is Leighton Meester (Country Strong), who plays Rebecca. Rebecca's roommate is Sara (Minka Kelly, 500 Days of Summer), from Iowa and who is a little more out of her comfort zone at the California school that they attend. Sara seems to adjust rather quickly and naturally then Rebecca does, quickly becoming friends with Tracy (Aly Michalka, Easy A ) and dating Stephen (Cam Gigandet, Burlesque). These events among others seem to ruffle Rebecca's feathers, as she's one that treats loyalty seriously and does what she can to remove any obstacles that will lead to her friendship with Sara continuing on.
Judging from a two-minute trailer things are laid out clearly and over the course of the film you have a good idea what the film and its antagonist are trying to accomplish. Yet when you compare The Roommate to the very similar (and far superior) Single White Female the key difference in the stories is how well the protagonist and antagonist played their roles. Simply put, Meester is no Bridget Fonda which could be a more damning indictment of Meester than anything, and Kelly is certainly no Jennifer Jason Leigh. Meester and Kelly simply lack the depth and believability. When Meester makes out with Kelly's ex-boyfriend as Leigh did in the predecessor, it's shock value is considerably lessened, in part because the filmmakers have done everything possible to make Meester's character crazy and distasteful, when all it's done is make you mad at Mallhi and Christiansen for doing the stupid things they did in the storytelling, including (but not limited to) animal cruelty. Along with these failings are the failings of a rather limited supporting cast. Gigandet is a cinematic mess, and Frances Fisher and Billy Zane appear in varying roles of responsibility in the film, but I'm sure they just wanted to get their day of shooting done and get the hell on with the rest of their lives. I wish I could do the same, retroactively of course.
While we're talking about silliness, allow me to actually buy the story The Roommate tries to tell for a second. For those of us who went to college and/or stayed with a roommate, don't we know that by now at least you're going to have some sort of basic introduction to the person you're going to spend 8 months studying and living next to? With the advent of social technology isn't a little bit harder to keep the crazy sequestered? So Sara either A) grew up in Iowa without access to a telephone (much less the internet), B) she's incredibly stupid, or C) the storytellers just wrote for the gimmick and didn't care about anything else. For the record, my money's on B & C.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Presented in 2.40:1 high-definition using the AVC codec, Sony's presentation of The Roommate is excellent. Blacks are deep and provide a solid contrast, the color palette looks good without being oversaturated and flesh tones are replicated accurately without an abundance of red or orange hues. Image detail is strong in the foreground and the exterior shots possess an impressive amount of detail on their own and make for an almost multidimensional look to them. There appears to be no persistent post-processing of the image on the disc, and it makes for pleasant viewing (a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down, if you will).
The Sony DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround option certainly suits the film well. There is a lot of club and party music that when you're "in the room with it" sounds strong and clear and when you've got a wall between you, you can certainly feel the music rumble. Dialogue sounds crisp and clean and directional effects and channel panning present themselves effectively when employed. The lossless track does what it's called upon to do rather well and it's excellent source material.
The disc not only has the extras from the standard definition disc, but some others exclusive to the Blu-ray, all which titled "Dangerously Sexy." "Obsession: The Making of The Roommate" is where the cast and crew share their thoughts on the film and story, and the actors discuss their respective approaches for their characters, and the visual style of the film is even given a few seconds here. "The Roommate: The Next Generation of Stars" (5:27) covers the actors working with one another and the crew's thoughts on casting, and "Dressing Dangerously" (3:51) focuses on the wardrobe aspect of the production. Christiansen's commentary isn't too revealing, as he talks about a production anecdote or trivia nugget here and there. If anything, it's more intriguing when he talks about his beginnings in Denmark and working in America. The deleted and alternate scenes (7, 6:09) are about as entertaining as the film itself and like other Sony titles, previews and the MovieIQ features are standard fare on their Blu-ray titles these days.
The Roommate is dumb, devoid of scary moments, filled with vapid performances and not entertaining in any form that I can think of. The turd certainly looks and sounds good, and the extras are symbolic of the mailed-in attitude that most on the set had to possess. At this point I'd rather go back to college than watch The Roommate again.