Apartment Zero (1988)

Few movies are as close to perfection as “Apartment Zero.” From the first few frames, it’s clear we’re in for something special: The city of Buenos Aires is gorgeously captured by Martin Donovan’s love-ridden camera, which gives the city a surreal, dreamlike quality that positively envelops its audience and cajoles them into its enigmatic narrative. Ostensibly about the lethal friendship between Colin Firth’s curious, potentially unstable cinema owner and his mysterious new American roommate Hart Bochner, the movie’s first half really could pass for a romantic drama, with the two sharing an unmissable homoerotic spark that’s buoyed by the chemistry among the two performers. Then, the second half takes an ominous turn as the plot thickens, with the intermingling of political and social upheaval gradually encroaching on their intimacy just as a serial killer seems to be getting closer to them. The tone then trades the dreamy romanticism of “Cinema Paradiso” for the paranoia of “The Tenant” and “Psycho,” and the whole thing unfurls like a carefully constructed work of cinematic architecture. Bet you can’t just watch it just once!

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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