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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Folie à Deux

Apartment Zero (1988) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Buenos Aires – Autumn 1988. A horn honks and the camera pans a busy avenue, pedestrians, angel & hero statues, pigeons, and back to night traffic. We have been given a glimpse of the city along the lines of author Sebastian Rotella: (120)

Detroit looked the way it was: cold, mean, and ugly. Rio fooled you. It was breath­takingly beautiful. The people mixed together in a kaleido­scope of races and colors—friendly, relaxed, sexy. But the city was dangerously divided—

Buenos Aires is projected as a vibrant, modern city but one that appreciates the arts. Then we get inside the art house Cine York where its audience is down to but two old ladies. The lone employee Claudia (Francesca d'Aloja) must wait till the James Dean retro­spective next month to get paid.

handshakeI run a cinema club, real movies on a real screen. Videos are killing me,” explains Sr Adrian LeDuc (Colin Firth.) He also owns or manages an apartment complex. Since he's had to put his mother (Elvia Andreoli) in a mental institution, her bedroom in his apartment has been freed up. As much as he values his privacy he's never­the­less forced to take on a paying room­mate. He narrows down his selection to American Jack Carney (Hart Bochner) who seems to be a good fit.

briefcaseAdrian has posters and pictures of movie stars and promotions displayed at Cine York. He has more of the same at his apartment. Jack keeps pictures of him­self w/ army mates locked in his brief­case under the bed, which his snoopy land­lord peruses. Claudia is using Cine York in the morning for meetings of a group trying to track down a serial killer. They display pictures of foreign army ops who had served as death squads five years earlier to disappear political dissidents. One of them is thought to be operating independently now on account of the same “exit wound above left eye” as the death squad had left. These pictures look like Jack's pictures. I suppose there's a lot of similarity among army groups posing for photos.

Adrian is such a shrinking violet that his neighbor-tenants speculate his mother's mental condition may be hereditary. He lives in apartment 10, but the ‘1’ on the door has fallen off leaving ‘Apt. 0.’ That would be appropriate to a man whose elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor. There was a popular novelty song in the 1960s by Napoleon XIV in which a man lost his mind due to separation anxiety:

They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! Remember when you ran away And I got on my knees And begged you not to leave Because I'd go berserk. Well you left me anyhow And then the days got worse and worse And now you see I've gone Completely out of my mind. And they're coming to take me away, ha-haa. They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, Hee-hee, ha-ha, to the funny farm—

Adrian is quite insistent that his new roommate not up and leave suddenly. It makes one wonder.

You thought it was a joke, And so you laughed. You laughed when I said That losing you would make me flip my lid. Right? You know you laughed. I heard you laugh. You laughed. You laughed and laughed and then you left, But now you know I'm utterly mad.

There had been a mocking incident in the song, and Adrian, too, had one. He is native Argentinean but his mother took him to England for sixteen years, and he returned speaking only English, refusing to speak Spanish. A cab driver gave him a hard time when he thought he had a Brit in his cab and wanted his pound of flesh in retaliation for the war with Great Britain over the Malvinas (Falkland Islands.) Argentina had lost in 1982.

I cooked your food, I cleaned your house, And this is how you pay me back For all my kind unselfish, loving deeds. Ha! Well you just wait; They'll find you yet, and when they do They'll put you in the A.S.P.C.A. You mangy mutt.

Here's the real kicker. The guy flipped out when his dog ran away! He was so insecure that he'd been cleaning the dog­house and feeding Fido cooked food. Like­wise, Adrian had been doing Jack's laundry and cooking breakfast for him. Jack thought it entirely unnecessary, but he went along with it. By and by, Jack might think it necessary to boogie out of town in a hurry, and Adrian's reaction might be worthy of a song.


Meditation on the things of God (Prov. 3:21-24) might have resulted in Adrian keeping a steady keel. (Prov. 3:25-26) “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Adrian was beset with financial worries.

(Prov. 3:27-28) “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” Adrian found a creative way to seal the (good) deal when Jack had wanted to put it off (“I can give you an answer by tonight.”)

(Prov. 3:29) “Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.” Jack should not have taken advantage of the married woman next door when her husband was away.

(Prov. 3:30) “Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.” The neighbors should not have busted in on Adrian when he was just quietly minding his own business.

(Prov. 3:31-32) “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.” Jack should not have chosen the ways of the death squad oppressors.

(Prov. 3:33-34) “The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.” That was some Psycho curse Adrian ended up with in his home, but the lowly art house was muddling along.

Production Values

” (1988) was written and directed by Martin Donovan. It stars Hart Bochner and Colin Firth who both did a fine job. The idiosyncratic characters in the apartment building are graphic and comical. Classification and Rating Administration rated it R. It's 124 minutes long (117 min. DVD.) The screen­play is first rate. The dialogue is pithy with dark under­tones. “Apartment Zero” is well crafted. The cinema­tog­raphy evokes the mystery and charm of Argentina as well as the oppressive air of the apartment building. The score is appropriate and the lighting does the trick.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

If you like Alfred Hitchcock, you'll like this one, too. Don't expect a happy ending so much as a wake up call. Can you see it coming?

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations are from the Authorized King James Version (KJV.) Pub. 1611. Rev. 1769. Software.

Napoleon XIV, 1966. “They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!.” Web.

Rotella, Sebastian. Rip Crew. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2018. Print.