In Spanish with English subtitles. Mexico, 2013, 67 min, digital video
(EL CUARTO DESNUDO)
NEW YORK THEATRICAL PREMIERE RUN!
Among the most immensely powerful, exquisitely sensitive, and formally inspired documentary films in recent memory, THE NAKED ROOM takes place entirely within the confines of a pediatric therapist’s office in a Mexico City hospital, observing the initial consultations of a succession of deeply troubled kids, and brilliantly transforming this constricted space into a microcosm vast in its metaphorical dimensions. Not content to limit the physical scope of the film to the four walls of the therapist’s office, director Nuria Ibáñez focuses entirely on the faces of the children themselves, as they struggle to express their feelings of severe depression and trauma, and describe the situations that have brought them to this pass. Constructing the film almost entirely out of close-ups on the children, and relegating everything else – the doctor, the parents and guardians of the kids, the décor of the consulting room – off-screen, Ibáñez has created a film that is visually minimalist but that contains multitudes.
The close-ups force us to share the kids’ perspective, and above all to truly see them with a clarity that movies rarely achieve when depicting children. Rather than representing the sentimental notion of the “innocence” of childhood, they come alive as individualized, troubled, yet ultimately vital human beings, fighting to survive emotionally and psychologically in the face of the abuse and dysfunction the world has bequeathed to them. Through the children’s expressions and gestures, THE NAKED ROOM paints a vivid picture of a society that inflicts its resentments and frustrations, its insecurities and sense of powerlessness, on those who are entirely unequipped to defend themselves, who have just begun the delicate process of understanding their world and forming their own identities. Shattering yet somehow resisting despair, thanks to the children’s reed-like resilience and astonishing honesty, THE NAKED ROOM is a landmark of contemporary documentary filmmaking.
“A haunting exploration of mental illness in children.” –VARIETY
“A work that achieves a lot with very little, since it is enough to listen to the children and their parents during the consultations to see the fragility of human nature.” –EL UNIVERSAL