One Bedroom is actor/writer/director/producer Darien Sills-Evans’ latest feature directorial effort, the last one being 2002’s X-Patriots. Sills-Evans is a Brooklyn native, so it makes perfect sense for him to direct a film centered in Brooklyn. What I appreciate about his interpretation of Brooklyn is how realistic it is. Most of the time, particularly in shows like Girls and even (to a MUCH lesser extent) Broad City, you see a somewhat exaggerated, glorified portrayal of Brooklyn and the city in general. Even though people are working at gyms or have no jobs at all, they still live in these palatial apartments, which if you’ve ever lived in Brooklyn and aren’t a millionaire, you know what bullshit this is.
More importantly, Sills-Evans highlights the black experience in the ever-gentrifying homogenization of NYC’s hippest borough. The film starts out with a scathing yet hilarious slam poem from poet DeAriesha Mack, highlighting the disturbing yet seemingly unstoppable white-washing of neighborhoods that were populated almost entirely of people of color. This made me think that the film is going to turn into a full Spike Lee Do The Right Thing critique on the black and white dynamic in Brooklyn neighborhood’s like Bed-Stuy, which to be quite honest, I would’ve been totally okay with. However, that’s not the case.
“…over the span of their relationship, Nate does seem to grow and change, not even a little bit.”
One Bedroom is actually a romantic comedy that takes place mostly in the apartment of Nate (played by the director himself) and Melissa (Devin Nelson). Nate’s mother owns the apartment building so Nate has the grand opportunity to live in (what I believe is) Bed-Stuy in a very nice one bedroom apartment for only $900 a month. I’m not sure if this translates well to people living outside of the city but this is CHEAP. The action for most of the movie is Melissa moving out of Nate’s apartment due to them breaking up after a five-year relationship.
Melissa is a very responsible teacher who doesn’t get too drunk and always refuses the blunt that’s being passed around and Nate is a DJ/Barber with not much ambition who loves to smoke weed and party. The unlikely pair met at his birthday party and over the span of their relationship, Nate does seem to grow and change, not even a little bit. Most of us know that it takes the desire to change oneself to make the change stick. Nate (like quite a few men if we’re being honest, and some women too…but mostly men) is resistant to grow up and change himself as much as Melissa thinks he needs to.
“…it’s incredibly real depiction of the dissolution of a relationship.”
The backdrop of the city is very important to the film. What I found very interesting is that while they’ll miss being together, the two are also really going to miss that apartment! Not to mention the amount of money they save while living with another person. Melissa struggles with this. While the apartment is not only great for its location and price, but also for the memories it held. As Nate tries to get Melissa to stay but in the end, the lessons he learns from her leaving finally push him to start making changes for himself and not because someone made him.
One Bedroom is at times hilarious and sad. What I love is it’s incredibly real depiction of the dissolution of a relationship. Where two people love each other but it just simply isn’t going to work for them, and how heartbreaking that can be. The cinematography by Alex Watson-Eng is beautiful and encapsulates the beauty of Brooklyn. The apartment where Nate lives looks like so many apartments I’ve went to and I applaud that realism. One Bedroom is both a great Brooklyn film and a great story about the joy and pain of relationships. Definitely worth a watch for any New Yorker and all the rest of y’all out there too.
One Bedroom (2018) Written and Directed by Darien Sills-Evans. Starring Darien Sills-Evans, Devin Nelson, Stephen Hill, Jade Johnson, DeAreisha Mack, Chester A. Sims II, Jon Laster, Amber Reauchean Evans. One Bedroom screened at the 2018 Bushwick Film Festival.
7 out of 10 stars