A strange phone call wakes up a couple in the middle of the night. Unable to go back to sleep the woman starts sharing her fears with her husband: her biggest one is she would get bedridden and kept alive by machines. Her fervent request to her husband to promise her if such thing happens he will pull the plug leads to an unveiling of unsuspected differences between them leaving a strange impression not only that they do not know each other but also that they are living their lives hidebound and disconnected from each other’s needs and sentimental realities.
Andrew Kotatko’s ‘Whoever Was Using This Bed (‘was unplugged’ we’d add) is nevertheless a skillful insight into the lives of middle age couples starting to face the perspectives of their future and becoming haunted by the potential grim side of them. A decision is required in advance to give the mind time to get used to the idea. Andrew Kotatko’s film is full of a rare maturity, the director showing he has both good psychological understanding of his characters and a deep outlook on life and its realities – social, emotional or mental that is.
A surreal and almost science fiction aura floats over the entire film nurtured perhaps by the house in refurbishment decor and some lines such as ‘it’s open season on smokers’. The way people talk about the ‘hour of the wolf’ is perfectly mirrored back by the mood of the film; they say around three o’clock every night the energies in the universe are powerful enough to put pressure on the human psychic favouring brain activity and making the deepest thoughts emerge (which usually coincide with the deepest fears). It’s exactly what happens in ‘Whoever Was Using This Bed’. It is strange how each of the fears of the two characters emerge gradually shaping up as highly probable by the avid appetite with which they immediately give in to smoking – a sensorial audio experience that literally dries out the viewer’s mouth.
Radha Mitchell delivers nothing less than an astounding role mixing jealousy and fear of suffering into a strange emotional cocktail while Jean-Marc Barr portrays a mild personality too timorous of the unknown of death to think about it and too ‘acute’ about his role as part of the society to turn its collateral manifestations away (e.g. the midnight phone call). When running down the stairs to answer the phone he almost looks stressed out. Who would possibly stress out to answer a phone call in the middle of the night? How important could it be, right? Well unless it is a tragedy of course, but no premise for such a thing in this case.
‘Whoever Was Using This Bed’ was awarded the 2nd Place for Best TMFF Film Of June for its delicate and proficient psychological cross-examination and the skillful reflection of the tendency of human instinct to prevail over reason and reverberate egoistically.