Saturday, 3 December 2011

Fermat's Room / La Habitacion de Fermat

Fassbender Season is on hiatus until Fassy gets around to making more films therefore I am stuck for something to review.  The time of year would suggest a Christmas Season but as I am short on Christmas dvds and the funds to purchase them I am making do with what I have.  It is now Spanish Season which means I will finally get to watch and review the Spanish Guillermo del Toro films which I have been putting off due to a justified fear that I will not be able to give them the praise they deserve.

Spanish Season starts with Fermat’s Room and will continue on until at least February which coincides with the return of the second half of The Walking Dead.

PLOT:  Four mathematicians answer the challenge of Fermat (Federico Luppi) and agree to meet at a secluded location under the pseudonyms Hilbert (Lluis Homar), Pascal (Santi Millan), Galois (a very attractive Alejo Sauras) and Oliva (Elena Ballesteros).  Shortly after they have eaten dinner Fermat receives an urgent call and he has to leave the party.  As the group await his return they realise they have become locked in the room.  They are given mathematical puzzles which must be solved within one minute otherwise the walls start to close in on them until they work out the correct answer.  Between puzzles they try to work out Fermat’s motive and it soon becomes clear that all is not what it seems.  END PLOT

Fermat’s Room is the equivalent of Saw without the blood.   I do appreciate that this may not make it sound like the most appealing film in the world especially if you hate the Saw franchise as much as I do.  Fermat’s Room is similar to Saw in the sense that a group of apparent strangers are placed in a room and forced into solving puzzles in order to survive – this is where the similarities end.

Fermat’s Room is not violent in the slightest.  There is no blood and there is no gore.  Instead of blood and gore we get consistently rising tension and stress levels.  As the room begins to shrink claustrophobia and panic sets in and the victims start to turn on one another as the truth slowly begins to unravel. 

The premise of Fermat’s Room sounds silly when written down but the film does work.  I don’t think the ending will satisfy everyone as it doesn’t end in a crazed last man standing battle but I liked the relatively quiet ending as it suited the characters.

Aside from Luppi I don’t know the cast at all but there was a really strong mixture of old and younger actors who all played well off one another.  The cast kept an admittedly ridiculous premise very grounded and they played it very real. 

Despite the film essentially taking place in the one room there were some decent shots and camera work – the bird’s eye view of the room closing in was actually a nice moment and as the tension arose the camera movement sped up quicker than a music video which again helped to enhance the urgency.

The mathematical puzzles are difficult enough that I couldn’t work them out for myself but easy enough for the mathematicians to explain quickly once they were solved.  The running time is just shy of 90mins and this coupled with the one minute time allotted to solve each puzzle gave a real sense of urgency which heightened the tension and stress levels of the characters even more. The pacing is fast which suited the film perfectly.

Fermat’s Room is by no means perfect as once the film ends it is very easy to start picking holes in the plot but with most thrillers you just have to buy into what you see in order for the film to work. 

Fermat’s Room is a very decent low budget thriller which is most definitely worth a second viewing.  It gets a very solid 7.5/10. 


  1. Sounds like a perfect time waster, nothing too deep.

  2. It is a perfect time waster - but a really good one!

  3. This is among my personal favorites.
    Good flick.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Anonymous!

      It's a very decent thriller

      K :-)