Review of Cosmo Jarvis’ The Naughty Room

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The Naughty Room is local musician/film-maker Cosmo Jarvis’s film debut.

It tells a unique story of two young individuals; apathetic, jobless slacker Subaru (Dave Egan) and the 20-year-old man-child Todd (Cosmo himself) who lives in the house on top of Subaru’s, and who has been locked inside his bathroom by his mother since he was four.

All is not well in Subaru’s little universe. His friendship is being tested, his mum is perilously close to kicking him out, and he is trying to cope with his large weed habit. But through a clever series of events he starts talking to Todd, and,  fully realising the depths of his situation, he vows to get him out and show him the world he has been missing for the last sixteen years.

This film does a clever job. It manages to be saying something of great importance about the slacker generation that is more than prevalent in today’s culture, and also has a plot that keeps you looking at the screen. It’s the cold, hard realities the film presents that elevates this to something deeper. Cosmo, who also wrote, has produced a screenplay that doesn’t criticise the activities of its protagonist, but instead chooses to simply understand. And within that understanding, he also presents a chance of redemption. It becomes a clarion call.

I was reminded in this film of two film-makers: Shane Meadows, and Richard Linklater. Both of those film-makers do things in the camera that are hard to define: they create a universe we can all relate to, and make films that we actually want to watch. And that’s what’s been done here. Cosmo shows an excellent control of mood and tone, as well as being technically superb; his use of camera techniques is clever but never intrusive. It’s as well made as it needs to be, without getting in the way of the story.

Cosmo, as an actor, is this film’s revelation. He performs a tricky role with humour and depth, getting the voice, mannerisms, and actions spot-on. He manages to convey both a childlike wonder at his situation and surroundings, and also an odd knowing, a basic awareness of what has gone on and what that means in relation to him. As the film slowly explains why his mother (Catriona McDougall) has kept him in the bathroom for so long, it morphs into something deeper; a legitimate look at parenting, something comparable to We Need To Talk About Kevin.

The film is packed with elements like this, which is impressive over its 73 minute running time. Everything it sets out to do, it does superbly. It sets out to look at absent fathers and it does so fearlessly. It sets out to look at stoner/slacker culture, and it does so fearlessly. It sets out to look at things that matter to all of us, and it does so fearlessly. I can’t imagine a truer film about youth coming out of Britain this year, one that so effectively talks to my generation. It was a heart-warming, heart-rending film, with a perfect arc and a conclusion that is infinitely satisfying.

Cosmo is clearly an enormously talented chap. From what little I’ve spoken to him and read about him, he is humble and polite. He knows what he has, and he isn’t cocky about it. At the age of 22 he has produced hundreds of songs and several art films, and this is no mean feat, really for someone twice his age. He is enormously talented, and this film will hopefully bring him out of his cult and into the mainstream, like he deserves. This is a deeply rewarding film with buckets of humour, pathos, and darkness, and it came from an incredibly talented individual that Devon should be proud of having.