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Canada, 1990 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Patricia Rozema

From the director of the award wining I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, this visually rich second feature is a harrowing urban fairy tale about the destructive effects of media attention on private lives.

Norman Gentle (Maurice Godin), our callow young hero, sets out from his comfy middle-class home to fulfil his destiny as a writer and lover. Along the way he encounters Zelda (Sheila McCarthy), hyped-up urban flake desperate for fame or at least notoriety. Whatever else she might do for Norm she doesn't get his creative juices flowing, so he looks elsewhere for inspiration.

One night he watches with voyeuristic horror as the talented and popular singer Madelaine X (Margot Kidder) is savagely murdered in her bedroom. Traumatised by the event and his passive complicity, he attends her funeral in an attempt to purge his guilt. There he meets Jane (Kate Nelligan), an enigmatic friend of the dead singer, and he follows her to her country home.

Throughout this mystery runs Norm's frustrated desire to write. After he learns his love for Jane is reciprocated he has a significant breakthrough. But Zelda uses his story to further her own ambitious ends and in doing so threatens his lovers' idyllic haven.

From the post-modern mockery of its opening sequence to its tragic-euphoric double ending, White Room is as much about the consequences of naive romanticism as it is about our uniquely modern obsession with celebrity.

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