Room 314



NEW YORK -- A quintet of couples has various intimate encounters in Michael Knowles' independent effort set in the closed confines of a hotel room.

Revealing its stage origins with its single setting and plethora of dialogue, the stuffy "Room 314" has its interesting moments but ultimately induces feelings of claustrophobia. The film recently was showcased at New York's Two Boots Pioneer Theater.

Knowles directed, wrote, edited and shot the feature as well as playing one of the central roles -- and might have bitten off more than he can chew.

The five episodes, most conveyed in real time, depict a couple (Joelle Carter, Matthew Del Negro) coping with the awkwardness of awakening together after a hook-up, a suspicious wife (Sarah Bennett) discovering that her husband (Michael Laurence) is not cheating on her but rather suicidal, married co-workers (Knowles, Robyn Myhr) trying to decide whether to commit adultery, the awkward encounter between a man (Todd Swenson) and the woman (Monique Vukovic) he's just picked up and a pair of sometimes lovers coping with the awkwardness of their relationship.

The filmmaker clearly has a gift for incisive characterizations and dialogue, but the overall impact of the vignettes is muted by an overall artificiality. No doubt, the proceedings made more of an impact onstage than they do here, despite the strong efforts of an acting ensemble that delivers characterizations as sensitive as they are necessarily brief.