Apartment Zero (1989): Martin Donovan’s Mystery Tale

Argentinean writer-director Martin Donovan’s Apartment Zero is a strange mystery tale, in which a movie buff doesn’t suspect that his handsome American roommate might be a spy.
The Spanish title, “Conviviendo con la muerte” (Living with Death),  is more apt in describing a story set in a rundown area of Buenos Aires at the dawn of the 1980s.
Colin Firth is well cast as Adrian Leduc, the British owner of a revival movie house, which alongside his mother, provides the core of his emotional life. He specifically likes classic American movies and stars; in the first scene, he’s watching in his theater the last scene of Orson Welles’ 1958 film noir, “Touch of Evil.”

As his theater operates at a loss, Adrian advertises for a roommate to share his apartment rent, and after meeting some unsatisfactory applicants, he offers the room to a handsome American named Jack Carney (Hart Bochner).

The movie is suffused with homoerotic overtones and moments of black comedy.

Made for a budget of $1.3 million, “Apartment Zero” premiered at the 1989 Sundance Film Fest (in Dramatic Competition), where it was picked up for theatrical distribution by Skouras.

Running Time: 124 Minutes