Room Taken (2024)
Room Taken (2024)

Genre: Drama and Short Running Time: 19 min.

Release Date: April 12th, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Tj O’Grady Peyton Actors: Gabriel Adewusi, Brid Brennan, Wale Adebusuyi

 


 

“D

o you have any friends or family you can stay with, just for a night or two?” Immigrant Isaac (Gabriel Adewusi), currently struggling with securing housing (in Ireland, perhaps only evident from accents, though this specific challenge is of a universal nature), spends the night at Samuel’s place, but the agreement is that it’s for the one evening only – and even that poses an inconvenience for Samuel’s wife and child. By chance, after getting turned down from a shelter, curling up in a secluded spot on the street, and then visiting a diner, Isaac crosses paths with an amiable, elderly blind woman, Victoria Dempsey (Brid Brennan).

When the lady forgets her bag in the diner, Isaac is tasked with returning it to her, which creates a unique opportunity when she tells him to leave it inside her apartment as she enters. Uncertain, but nevertheless bold and desperate, Isaac sneaks upstairs to spend the night in an unused room. And the following morning, he helps himself to a bath … and then another night’s stay, as well as breakfast. Clearly feeling guilty over his unapproved occupancy, which he assumes is going unnoticed – despite various visitors checking in on Victoria – he begins to make minor repairs to the place, fixing a window and a radio and more.

“Strange things have been happening.” As if a friendly ghost (a double-meaning, really, since immigration crises across the world are often forgotten or dismissed, as if these very real people are invisible), Isaac looks over Victoria’s residence, genially substituting in little ways for the woman’s recent losses of her husband and her eyesight. It’s terribly fortunate that this unexpected visitor is a decent person; this episode could have gone badly had the many predicaments in Isaac’s life transformed him into a bitterer, angrier, more manipulative persona. Instead, however, as a demonstration of the optimistic proclivity of humankind toward moral righteousness, the whole ordeal is uplifting, pleasant, magical, and life-affirming. It’s simple and to-the-point, a perfect concept for a short subject, with all the right beats for ups and downs and a poignant conclusion. In many ways, it nods to the vastly overlooked Anthony Minghella feature “Truly Madly Deeply,” with its similar themes of grief and mental convalescence, but “Room Taken” is quite efficient and effective during its brief runtime. It also helps that stars Adewusi and Brennan are first-rate, emoting effortlessly through expressions and idiosyncrasies rather than needlessly wordy dialogue.

– Mike Massie

  • 9/10