Daniel Keyes‘s rather imaginative, well-written and very complex tale (finally) gets the silver screen treatment after years and years of bubbling away in film and television gestation juice. Sadly, it wasn’t completely worthwhile adding the keywords ‘The Crowded Room’ to those Google alerts.
Tom Holland, though superb in the Spider-Man movies, isn’t as suitable for the role as Billy Milligan – though here he’s playing a fictionized version of the real guy, Danny Sullivan – the first man in history acquitted for a major crime by claiming he had multiple personality disorder, as he is as a plucky Manhattan teenager that gets about in superhero attire. Sure, he gives it his all, and he’s clearly done his research, but he just doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the character described in the source material.
In the ‘70s, the tortured young man is arrested after allegedly shooting a man in New York. He claims his ‘friend’ Ariana (Sasha Lane) is more involved than he is – in fact, he’s innocent. Interrogator Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried, also not entirely convincing) tries to get to the truth. Slowly, she does. Very slowly. Much like the show.
A really slow build, one that does pay off with a good twist, The Crowded Room isn’t the knockout film we’d been promised over the years (at one time with Leonardo DiCaprio) nor is it as good as some of the other true crime mini-series we’ve seen in recent years but the actors keep you interested, the story itself is intriguing (especially if you know very little about the case that inspired the series) and it looks good. Enough to warrant itself must-see TV? Sadly, no.