Fermat’s Room: A Spanish Thriller

Four budding mathematicians unknown to each other discover their fates intertwined when they are caught in a room with shrinking walls. With their pasts coming back to haunt them in the face of death, can they escape without hurting others and getting hurt?

Fermat’s Room or ‘La habitación de Fermat’, was a Spanish thriller. Directed by Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopena the film was released in 2007.  In the starring are Alejo Sauras, Santi Millan, Elena Ballesteros, Lluis Hoamr and veteran actor Federico Luppi.

The film starts with a cocky guy explaining, flirting and solving maths problems while showing off to some girls. He is then urgently called to his room. This brilliant man is due to give a demonstration on Goldbach Conjecture- an unsolved problem every mathematician hopes to solve. Upon entering his room the sight devastates him. Apparently, some unknown mysterious person has vandalized his room and stolen his entire life’s work. The scene shifts to four months later where an old man is playing chess with his friend and talking casually about his suicidal thoughts. He also gauds about a mysterious mail he received earlier regarding a mathematical problem. The next scene focuses on a young man trying to solve the same problem in a library when a lady interrupts and her words make him see the answer.

All three of them are called on a decided spot when we are introduced to the fourth character, a young, beautiful lady driving a moped, to solve an enigma. As per the rules of their mystery host they are not supposed to tell anyone about their journey and are prohibited from carrying a cell phone. They introduce themselves by pseudo names- Galois, Hilbert, Pascal and Olivia. They soon figure out they need to cross the lake using an upside turned boast named ‘Pythagoras’ in order to get to the other side. On crossing over to the side they get in an abandoned car equipped with PDA and GPS. The navigating route takes them to an isolated warehouse amidst nowhere. Inside they find a comfortable room with loads of books, huge mirror and splendid piano, bottles of wine and cosy sofa. After few minutes a man enters and introduces himself as Fermat. Sometime later after dinner he receives a distressed call about his daughter who is in coma and leaves the party hanging. Evidently he forgets his coat and Pascal runs after him. But, Fermat has already driven off in the night. Pascal recovers Fermat’s fallen wallet and returns back to the room. Now utterly bored and confused as to their purpose here they think of leaving. The doorknob however, won’t budge- they are locked in the room. The PDA makes a sound and they have their first riddle to solve in a minutes time. Trying to find the answer one minute passes and Pascal at last solves the problem sighting it to be a cliché one. He also realises that the room has shrunk in size. Upon finding an order receipt for four industrial hydraulic presses, it dawns on them if unable to answer the riddles in the given time the room will continue to shrink in size, thus killing them all.

Deciphering the reason behind the killers motivations, solving mathematical problems, preventing themselves from getting killed and supporting each other, the quartet begin to realise this is a part of some plot bigger than they realize. Unable to deal with their fear in face of death starts the blame game as their past revisits them. As the movie progresses, you find yourself gripping the seats more tightly. Every time the PDA rings you seem to be trying to solve the riddle with them. Every time the walls move in further you can feel your breath getting sucked in. When they speak about their past life, you suspect each one of them to be the murderer. When the movie ends, you still feel slightly overwhelmed and breathless.

The story of the movie is very engaging. It is absolutely and entirely a maths movie. The cast has displayed superb talent. A very unique screenplay and unnatural theme makes it different from conventional, mainstream cinema. Produced for mature adults, it is definitely worth a watch.

Mrunmayi Adawadkar

Book worm, trek lover, enthusiastic traveler, enjoy playing with colors, Game of Thrones addict and always looking for adventure!

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