I swear, if I wasn’t aware this was an independent film from someone else, I’d insist until my face turned blue that this was directed by Terry Zwigoff. Take the demented attitude of Zwigoff, the situations of “Clerks”, and the awkward realism of “The Office” and you’ll pretty much have “The Coatroom”. Gilbert’s film is an entertaining absurdist existential comedy about a group of people, working in an awful job, contemplating life and their dead end careers in art.
“The Coatroom” reminded me a lot of films like “Clockwatchers” and “Clerks” in which we have to view monotony, and these people’s confinement within these workaday jobs with odd characters, and their inability to break out of it, because they have nothing else. Yet, they’re able to find a way to get through the day. Gilbert‘s film explores the utterly obscure life of people who work in coat rooms, this one in particular is set in a coatroom at an art museum in Philadelphia. Carrico’s writing is perhaps the best aspect of “The Coatroom” because each of the characters are written with immense detail, and present many of their own quirks.
Particularly Bromwell, who plays the senior worker at the museum who has to tutor the new employees and revels in violating the coats she takes, and gauges the customers for tips, even though her boss forbids her to. Bromwell’s character is the most defined as she flirts with many of the workers and sits whittling away while they feel the need to turn to her for advice and rant about their own meaningless existences. Bromwell’s performance is great, and the dialogue helps that. Thankfully Carrico’s comedic situations never get too hokey for what the plot entails, and most of the comedy is based around the heavy dialogue, and character chemistry that works without a hitch. One of the funniest being Claire persuading the star Patrick to buy her museum tickets so she can take retarded kids, and Patrick inadvertently taking the wrap for an incident in the bathroom.
The Coatroom’s charm is reliant on the witty and sharp dialogue that forces a laugh here and there, and great situations involving the actual coatroom make it enjoyable. “The Coatroom” is filled with great performances, particularly from Gary Keenan who has the best dialogue as a stoner drunk who feels the need to wax poetic whenever he’s high or drunk. Gilbert explores this little known facet of the workplace with flair, yet it’s really just a microcosm, and it’s up there with “Office Space.” Gilbert‘s film is arty without ever being pretentious, and is an awfully hilarious character driven story of people on the way to nowhere, seeking a path. With hilarious writing by Carrico, and great performances by such a large cast, “The Coatroom” is an absurdist comedy that deserves to be seen.