Cyclops At The Cinema

Strangers in A Room

Jamie Toth, The Somewhat Cyclops
3 min readAug 20, 2023

The power of independent film is in telling stories that don’t often get told, and is just that sort of powerful cinema. Directed by Andre Rehal, Strangers in a Room focuses on veteran actor Jae (Jonathan Kim), as he explores a large life choice. Its beautiful cinematography enhances Kim’s engaging performance, and reflects Jae’s turbulent inner world.

Strangers in a Room is a physically beautiful film that tells the sort of story Hollywood doesn’t want you to hear. Its name is a reference to the audition process — where actors and actresses are judged by strangers in a room — and the audition in question is particularly difficult one for Jae, who is already struggling with questions of what happens when dreams and identity collide. Jae, who is a veteran actor, attends an audition, where he gives his name as Jacob — but that’s not all that he must do to secure a role.

Beyond the microagressions (and I’d even say macroaggressions — there’s no doubt about the racism in play at his audition), the entire situation grows more complicated when a video about the incident goes viral. What should be an exposure of how nasty industry politics collides with systemic racism instead becomes an emotionally devastating catalyst for Jae. Now…