The entire film takes place in a single hotel room overlooking a square in
(hence the title). The film opens with a view from the balcony of the room. We see two women walking along the street towards us. They are talking. It’s obvious that they’ve just met that night and that they already have a connection. One of them is very nervous, though, and says she has to get to her hotel because she has to fly home in the morning. After a while the other finally convinces her to come up to her room with her. Rome
[By the way, despite the setting and the actresses, the film is primarily in English, with small amounts of Spanish, Russian, Italian, and Basque. It makes sense because English is the common language that the two of them share.]
When they come in, it’s obvious that both have been flirting with each other. Alba (Anaya) is Spanish, while “Natasha” (Yarovenko) is Russian. It is the last night in
for both of them. Tomorrow they travel back to their own countries on the opposite ends of Rome Europe. Alba is confident and has obviously picked up a woman before. She tells the hesitant Natasha, “We met in a bar. We exchanged looks. We were attracted to each other. We made a connection. Isn’t this how it works?”
Natasha tries to tell her “I’m not a…”, but she can’t finish. She finally says to Alba, “It’s the first time in my life I look like this at a woman. Never before a woman looked at me this way.” She then continues, a little accusingly, “It’s not the first time you look at a woman like this.” It is the first day of summer, so Alba points out to Natasha that this is the shortest night of the year, and it is the last night in
for both of them, so they had better make the most of it. Natasha finally decides to stay, but is ultimately too nervous to do anything more than kiss. Alba just holds her. After a few minutes, Alba is asleep. Natasha changes her mind (or does she?) and leaves. Rome
Alba is woken up by a ringing phone. It’s not hers, though. It’s Natasha’s phone and she returns to get it. Did Natasha really forget it, did she subconsciously leave it there because she wanted to return, or did she purposely leave it there so she had an excuse to return? This time Alba really turns on the charm. She very boldly answers Natasha’s knock while still nude, daring Natasha to ignore her attraction to her. Natasha won’t come in to get the phone, so Alba stays in the doorway even when a hotel waiter comes down the hall. Natasha finally has no choice, and goes back in the room with Alba.
This time Alba and Natasha start to talk instead of just falling into bed. They open up a little about themselves, although we find out that “Natasha” told a few small lies, including what her name is. As the film goes on, we discover that both had good reasons for being in the bar, and that those reasons resulted in what might be an unlikely pairing – “two ships passing in the night”. Is it fate that has brought the two of them together in one of the most passionate and romantic cities in the world?
The two of them finally make love. Almost right afterwards, though, Natasha starts worrying about it. She asks Alba to keep this within the four walls. Alba agrees. Natasha then also asks Alba to promise her this will not change her life. Alba says she can’t do that. They start swapping stories about their lives. Again, we start to learn more about each of the women. As we do, they become far more than two generic women; they become real people. They end up spending the entire night together, talking, laughing, singing, discussing art, and making love a couple more times. By the morning, they have such a connection that they (and we) wonder what they are going to do now.
All of the interactions between the women felt quite real – the stories they shared, their reactions to them, the growing feelings for each other, etc. There are three sex scenes in the film, but anyone watching this movie hoping to see porn will be severely disappointed. Instead, the actual sex scenes are quite short, and are the only things in the film that didn’t feel real to me. It felt a little bit like the director was getting the sex scenes out of the way. The film is much more about sensuality than it is about sexuality, so the focus isn't on the sex anyway.
Music plays a small, but important part in the movie. I already mentioned the song “Loving Strangers” received an award nomination. It plays several times during the film. At first I thought it was just because it was about the only song the filmmakers had the rights to, but then I realized that it was appearing at points in the movie where the women’s relationship had subtly changed. The song, though the same, took on slightly different meanings each time. “Loving” went from meaning sex, to meaning intimacy, to meaning romantic love. What starts as a one night stand, becomes so much more.
A classic Italian song – Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (aka Volare) – is used in my favorite scene in the movie. Natasha is singing it in the shower and Alba can’t resist joining her.
Speaking of the shower, some people have commented on the amount of nudity in the film. Considering the topic and events, it really doesn’t seem out of place to me. I’m always laughing at films where they show a sex scene and then the couple get out of bed and they are already wearing underwear, or they carefully sit on the bed and pull underwear on before standing up, or the woman very carefully tucks the sheet up under her armpits, or any other silly things that never happen in real life, but only when the actors and actresses don’t want to show nudity.
This film is refreshing in its approach. The nudity is just there. Sometimes one or both might put on a robe for a while, but it may or may not be tied tight. Sometimes the sheet covers one or both, but sometimes it doesn’t. When they get out of bed they don’t set speed records to get back into their dresses. They are just very comfortable with each other and it creates a great sense of intimacy between the two.
Elena Anaya is obviously quite comfortable with her body. She recently appeared in the film The Skin I Live In (2011). I have not seen Natasha Yarovenko before, but she seemed quite comfortable as well. I do have to say that both women are stunning (especially Anaya). Anyone who thinks lesbians are not supposed to be beautiful will hate this film.
In fact, if you’re the kind of person who asks, “Did they have to show nudity in that scene?” then this is definitely not the film for you. While there are a few sex scenes, they are not really that graphic. There is a lot of sensuality, such as a finger lightly run down a back, a kiss on a neck, hair gently brushed aside, etc. If these things would make you uncomfortable then you should probably skip this movie. For everyone else, especially fans of Before Sunrise, this film is highly recommended.
Chip’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars