Combustible Celluloid
Get the Poster
Own it:
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Colin Firth, Hart Bochner, Dora Bryan, Liz Smith, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, James Telfer, Mirella D'Angelo, Juan Vitali, Cipe Lincovsky, Francesca d'Aloja, Miguel Ligero, Elvia Andreoli
Written by: Martin Donovan, David Koepp
Directed by: Martin Donovan
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 124
Date: 09/30/1988

Apartment Zero (1988)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rat in the Flat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Martin Donovan's bizarre, riveting thriller surely belongs on any list of the best "movies you've never heard of." A young Colin Firth stars as the reclusive Adrian LeDuc, a Buenos Aries native who lives on the top floor of a busy apartment building and pretends to be British so that people will leave him alone. His only passion is his revival movie house, which plays classic films to dwindling audiences. He also delights in his endless knowledge of Hollywood movie trivia (give him any three actors and he can name the movie they appeared in together). When his mother's health worsens and his cash-flow turns to a trickle, he decides to take on a flat-mate. Enter the handsome American Jack Carney (Hart Bochner), with whom Adrian immediately forms a needy, quasi-sexual fixation. Adrian begins taking care of Jack's laundry, serving his breakfast and demanding his whereabouts when he comes home late. Of course, things with Jack aren't all that they seem; his effortless charms that work on all of Adrian's neighbors, as well as on Adrian, cover up a darker secret. Working from a screenplay co-written by future A-list writer David Koepp (Carlito's Way, Spider-Man, etc.), Donovan spreads out the suspense for a dangerously long time (124 minutes), but keeps certain cards held for the duration. Most of the movie depends on Firth and Bochner's performances, and they both give everything they've got. Donovan mainly ignores the Argentinean locations, preferring instead to incorporate the apartment building and movie theater as "characters" in the story; they could be anywhere. (Apparently this location came as a by-product of the film's financing.) Of course, we also get lots of movie references, most notably a clip of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.

DVD Details: Anchor Bay Entertainment and Union Station Media have released Apartment Zero on a 2007 DVD. It includes a director's commentary track and a writer's commentary track, on which Koepp is joined by "special guest" Steven Soderbergh. Unfortunately, the image transfer is a bit grainy, and Anchor Bay still has not adopted the practice of providing subtitles.

Movies Unlimtied