Review: ‘Love Gets A Room’

The Show Must Go On… Even At a Warsaw Ghetto In 1942

Although we here at Punch Drunk Critics cover any and everything related to movies and TV shows, the theater is still a one-of-a-kind way to be entertained. It’s something about actors and actresses dedicated to their craft, who put out a new performance every night (sometimes even twice a day) and have an intimate relationship with their audience during their performance. The theater gives an actor/actress time to truly show what they are about as they almost “play jazz” while performing. But what if that performance was by a group of Jewish actors holed on in a Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation? That’s what director Rodrigo Cortés explores in his latest film Love Gets a Room.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Love Gets a Room when I first started watching the film. The promotional material paints a picture of a love triangle between 3 actors holed up in Warsaw, but the film is so much more than a “who will she choose” narrative that’s built more for contemporary rom-coms. Having Love Gets a Room take place for the entire 103 minutes of the actual play being performed, and having the film showcase the ins and outs of putting on a performance under the misery of being a young Jewish person under Nazi occupation who just wants to live to the next day is not only a technical masterpiece, but an outstanding film.

Speaking of technical achievement, Love Gets a Room opens with an exquisite single tack tracking shot (I’m a sucker for a good tracking shot and musicals so I was in heaven!) as we follow Stefcia (Clara Rugaard) as she goes about her day in the ghetto. Everyone’s miserable, everyone’s hungry, everyone’s desperate. As Stefcia goes about her day, we realize that she’s an actress who’s about to perform “Love Looks For An Apartment” at a local comedy show, the one form of entertainment the Nazis didn’t shut down. Stefcia is in love with fellow actor Edmund (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and is very close with Edmund’s little sister Sarah (Dalit Streett Tejeda), who is also in the play, as well as a host of other Jewish actors who want to put on a good performance.

However, everyone’s current life situation is also going on. Stefcia’s former boyfriend Patrik (Mark Ryder) arrives to tell her that he managed to bribe an SS soldier to look the other way and allow him and one other person to escape the occupied area. Naturally, Patrick wants Stefcia to come along with him. Not only to they have to navigate a potential escape and what that means for them, but they also have to do it while putting on a performance for the play. When it’s their turn to be on the stage, they are professional, singing and dancing their hearts out. However, when they are backstage, they are all nervous wrecks. To make matters worse, a group of Nazi soldiers (who may or may not know what’s going on) have sat in the audience and they have their own plans. Love Gets a Room showcases just how hectic it is to put on a play, but also how even more hectic it can be while either planning to escape a death sentence, or avoid being killed by your occupiers. Each of the actors of the play (and in the movie itself) display the magic of theater and how it often can’t be replicated on film, and yet in Love Gets a Room it has!

Don’t be surprised if this actually becomes a Broadway show because it’s such a love letter to theaters, plus the singular setting (except the beginning where the audience gets a tour of the ghetto) of Love Gets a Room is in the theater. While watching the film I even wondered to myself “Why hasn’t this been made a play already?” All of the songs performed in the film were written for the film, many even by director Rodrigo Cortés. Keeping the runtime with a normal play makes adapting this to an actual play rather seamless.

All of the performances are top-notch, even SS officer Sergeant Szkop (Magnus Krepper) who comes in the third act to remind us why Nazis suck (where’s Indiana Jones when you need him) as he is delightfully evil. Only Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds was more terrifyingly menacing, especially in the third act where he stops the play to do his own nefarious monologuing.

Love Gets a Room is an incredible film as it showcases that even in tragedy and hopelessness, the arts can be a way to allow us to smile through the pain. It was true back during American Enslavement with old Negro spirituals, and it is also the case for Jews under occupation. Even when those in Warsaw are forbidden to clap under the threat of death, they still find solace in entertainment to help them get through a tough time. Love Gets a Room completely understands the assignment and helps raise your spirits.

Love Gets A Room is currently available in select theaters and will be available on VOD Friday, June 30th.