Saturday, 27 August 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2011: Jakub Gierszal in Suicide Room

Jakub Gierszal did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dominik Santorski in Suicide Room.

Suicide Room is a curious film about a teenager falling into a terrible depression and a strange online community after his world collapses due to a brief homosexual encounter.

Jakub Gierszal's performance begins in as an unassuming enough portrayal of just a pretty standard teenager. He comes from a privilege due to his successful parents, and seems to be popular enough in school. His parents though are shown to be somewhat detached, more interested in their careers in general, and Dominik seems to have just a slight twinge of discontent in him though in a fairly standard way. Gierszal's performance works well in these early scenes in just being just about an average teenager. He brings just a bit of moodiness, and even a bit of ego, that possibly could easily stem given his parent's wealth, that Gierszal makes very natural. This is worth nothing because although the behavior is unlikable, Gierszal makes it at least somewhat less so by making the behavior genuine. Gierszal's performance is unassuming in the right way in that he makes Dominik just as he should be no more no less.

Everything seems fine for Dominik, despite a sudden fascination with a video of someone slicing their arm with razor, and Gierszal's portrayal confidence of this comfort that helps Dominik go along with the dare that begins his downward spiral. The dare being to kiss one of his male classmates, which he does. This in itself does very little, though Gierszal is good at just realizing kind of thrill of the act for Dominik. That thrill which goes a bit far when another encounter with the same young man, goes a bit further accidentally for Dominik. The act though quickly leads to Dominik being widely ridiculed online, and we get the first breakdown scene by Gierszal. It is unfortunately his worst scene in terms of his performance. The scene itself requires an extreme reaction to echo Dominik's vulnerability, but Gierszal goes in the wrong direction with. He goes too in the theatrical direction with his waving of his arms, and his screams that are basically too clean. It feels like an actor's breakdown which is ill-fitting for the film, and the character.

Dominik's early attempts to deal with his life lead him to a depression, which is well portrayed by Gierszal in the margins of his performance. He creates the very real sense of someone just having a weight of despair around them at all times that keep him at a distance. Dominik in some way to combat his problem begins to act out by basically being more "emo", and having lapses of strangeness, such as when kisses a statue. The sense behind these actions seem to be to reflect Dominik's growing unease, however Gierszal never quite attaches that to these individual moments. In fact that seem rather calm, and not too calm that it would still be unnerving. Well eventually Dominik completely closes off by becoming part of a strange online community that seem obsessed by suicide. He becomes obsessed with the chat room of sorts, and the film often becomes basically an animated feature  at times by depicting the virtual reality of the room.

These scenes don't add up to much, though they depict Dominik falling into a world of his own to avoid the one on the outside. In the few moments where we do see him visually, Gierszal does well in portraying the contentment of this escape of sorts, while also portraying the intense nervousness whenever his parents attempt to take him away from it. His parents eventually force him away from it all, but the son still attempts to connect to it by taking a box of potentially deadly pills to meet with a girl he had met in the chat room. It seems that they do meet up and Gierszal is moving in portraying finally a true happiness with another real human being. This is brutally shown to be false vision as the actual last scene we are given is after Dominik has swollen the pills, and is dying. Unlike his previous meltdown, Gierzal excels in revealing the terrible details of Dominik's end with his delivery of broken pleads while showing the physical pain as he collapses from the pills. Gierszal's work is inconsistent though still effective in revealing the unpleasant decay that ends in suicide.


Deiner said...

Thoughts and ratings on the rest of the cast and the film as a whole?

Anonymous said...

I agree with this rating.
Louis: Ratings and thoughts.
Ralph Meeker, George Macready, Timothy Carey, Wayne Morris and Adolphe Menjou in Paths of Glory
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix
Gene Hackman and Jon Cryer in Superman IV
Clifton Webb and John Payne in The Razor's Edge

Louis Morgan said...


Kulesza and Pieczyński - 3.5(They both give good realistic portrayals of the absorbed parents. They never over do the attachment which is quite effective. They portray a reasonable warmth in the few moments they share with him, yet still exude the right indifference in the very same reactions. As Dominik's troubles progress the two realize well their own degradation as they fail to understand exactly how to interact with their son.)

Gąsiorowska - 3(She's just fine as kind of the mysterious figure she should be, however I don't think anything about her work is truly remarkable. She serves her purpose well enough, but I feel as though she could have made more of an impact with the character.)

The film itself I felt had a certain visceral power to it given the subject matter, and the relationship between the parents and son are well handled. The whole virtual reality element sequence/suicide room, fell very flat for me, perhaps due to the fairly emotionless nature of the animation. It seemed underdeveloped in some respects to begin with though, and it felt like the film could have explored Dominik's relationship with the people at school in more detail.

Louis Morgan said...


I covered the Paths of Glory cast in the alternate 57 nominations announcement. I reviewed Webb, he was nominated.

Reeves - 3.5(You know I have to admit Reeves has grown on me to the point that I kind of like him irrationally no matter what. I don't need to much irrational thinking for this performance to begin with actually. Yeah has some Keanuy moments in there to be sure, but he really does carry the film with a definite ease. I also feel his "style" so to speak just works in terms of being someone who may be an omnipotent being.)

Weaving - 3.5(Weaving is a lot of fun in the role, and there is a reason his mere utterance of "Mr. Anderson" is rather iconic. He does that seemingly unemotional speaking well, and I love the little insertions of a certain emotion at times to allude to Smith's nature. That is until his breakdown with Morpheus which is rather effective)

Moss - 3(No one can out Keanu Keanu. She kind of goes for a similarly downplayed approach, maybe goes just a bit too far. She has good moments in there though like when she's watching the other members of the ship die, and a few specific moments that add weight to the action scenes)

Gene Hackman - 3(It is a severe downgrade over the original version and 2, but I still think he gives the film its only real quality still. He has terrible material, a terrible co-star, but he's still decent)

Cryer - 1(Where's Ned Beatty yikes. Anyway Cryer is no substitute for Otis, he's no substitute for anything really. A stick would be a better thing to work off, because at least a stick is bland and unassuming. Cryer is actively terrible and obnoxious in the role.)

Payne - 2.5(He's alright in a limited role to begin with. He's okay in portraying the distressed fashion in a low key fashion which is fitting to the character's specific distress. He really does not have much more to work with though.)