I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I love single location storytelling. When a filmmaker chooses to limit themselves to a single space, it takes away the distraction of the ‘where’ and shines an unforgivably bright light on the writing, performances, and story.
By taking away one narrative ‘sense’ it requires the other senses to strengthen if the film is to succeed. It’s a risk but after being absolutely captivated for the entire runtime of The Oak Room, I can thankfully report that it’s a risk that pays off.
On a dark and stormy night, Paul (Peter Outerbridge) is getting ready to close up his bar when he’s interrupted by Steve (RJ Mitte) returning to the town after a three-year absence. Furious, Paul demands Steve pay the man what he owes but is instead offered a story. This simple premise leads the audience down a path of intrigue that slowly begins to make sense over the course of the film.
The story and dialogue here are so good that I found myself desperate to get to the resolution but once certain characters’ motivations were revealed I then switched, not wanting the film to end at all. Part of that is due to the other key element that this film excels in, performance.
Without exception, every actor involved in this production is extraordinary. Both Outerbridge and Mitte are fantastic in their respective roles and the supporting cast is no different, with Ari Millen’s turn as The Oak Room barman Michael being especially captivating (no surprise, given that Ari played the same part in the stage version).
The performances on display here are remarkable and paired with brilliant writing and direction lead to a film you genuinely cannot take your eyes away from.
In the end, I absolutely adored this movie with the only bittersweet feeling coming from the fact that I’ll never get to see the stage version. It’s a beautifully accomplished film and highly recommended to any and all that appreciate good storytelling.