|Directed by||Luis Piedrahita
|Produced by||César Benítez
José María Irisarri
|Written by||Luis Piedrahita
|Music by||Federico Jusid|
|Cinematography||Miguel Ángel Amoedo|
|Edited by||Jorge Macaya|
|Distributed by||Brunbro Entertainment Group (Belgium)
A Plus Films (Turkey)
IFC Films (USA)
Revolver Entertainment (UK)
Shochiku Company (Japan)
Filmfreak Distributie (Netherlands)
|October 7, 2007|
Fermat's Room (Spanish: La habitación de Fermat) is a 2007 Spanish thriller film directed by Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopeña. Three mathematicians and one inventor are invited to a house under the premise of solving a great enigma, and told to use pseudonyms based on famous historical mathematicians. At the house, they are trapped in a room. They must solve puzzles given by the host, who calls himself "Fermat", in order to escape the slowly closing walls of the room.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2015)|
A character whose real name isn't revealed during the film (but who is known later as "Galois") prepares to present his proof of Goldbach's conjecture. While explaining it to colleagues, he is alerted by security to return to his room. When he arrives, he finds his demonstration materials have been sabotaged.
Four months later, another mathematician (known later as "Hilbert") reveals to a friend that he has attempted suicide. He mentions that he received a letter from a man signing himself "Fermat", which invites him to a convention of the best mathematicians in the country. To accept the invitation he must solve an enigma: he must explain the order of the numerals in the sequence 5-4-2-9-8-6-7-3-1.
Ten days later, an inventor (known later as "Pascal") goes to a library to solve the same mathematical enigma. After many hours, he gives up and destroys the letter. The librarian permits him to stay after closing, on the condition that the books he uses must be returned in alphabetical order. Pascal has an epiphany: the numbers are in alphabetical order in Spanish.
Pascal mails his solution, and receives a second letter from Fermat with instructions to arrive at a given time and place, alone, without a cell phone, to work on "the greatest enigma". All the guests are assigned pseudonyms taken from famous mathematicians and philosophers (these are the only names by which the characters are identified throughout the film) and may not reveal their real names to any of the other guests. Four invitees (Galois, Hilbert, Pascal, and Oliva) converge on the given coordinates on the bank of a river. A car on the other side flashes its lights, and they use a row boat named Pythagoras to reach it.
Upon reaching the empty car, they find a PDA with GPS coordinates and travel directions. These lead them to an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere. Inside they find a back room set up as an elegant parlor, with a large dining table set for five and a library of books on mathematics and logic.
A man enters and introduces himself as Fermat. They socialize and discuss academia, mathematics, and puzzles. After dinner, Fermat receives a phone call about his daughter, whom he claims is in a coma at a nearby hospital. Mobile reception is poor, and Fermat is unclear about the meaning of the call. Insisting it might be dire news, he leaves hurriedly and forgets his coat. Pascal chases him, but Fermat has already driven off. Fermat's wallet drops out of a pocket in the confusion. Pascal picks up the open wallet, and notices a photo of a girl.
Upon Pascal's return, the PDA beeps and displays the first enigma, with a time limit of one minute for its solution. Hilbert, Oliva, and Galois work on the problem, but exceed the deadline. Pascal reveals it to be a clichéd problem and solves it. Pascal notices that the walls seemed to contract when the deadline was exceeded. He finds a sales order for four industrial presses. The group intuits that the presses are set to compress the room each time they fail to solve a puzzle by the stated time limit. The only door has been blocked by the moving walls and there is no escape.
As the occupants of the room continue to work on the ongoing stream of enigmas, details about their pasts emerge. It is revealed that Oliva and Galois have a romantic history, and that Oliva cheated on him with Hilbert. Elsewhere, Fermat stops at a gas station and realizes he hasn't his wallet and can't pay. When he reaches the hospital, a duty nurse insists they did not call him. The nurses suggest that he go home, but he realizes he left his house keys in his jacket, and must return to the warehouse.
The group piles the furniture in the room to hold the moving walls, but the furniture is broken as the walls continue to contract. Pascal identifies the girl in the photo as a pedestrian that he severely injured with his car. He proposes that Fermat is trying to kill him in revenge, and that the others are collateral victims. When they discover an invitation addressed to "Fermat" with different instructions than theirs, they surmise that Fermat was not their host after all, but merely another pawn of the true host. Who is their host, and why is he trying to kill them? If this is a revenge plot, the person wanting revenge would want to see it happen. As there are no visible cameras or viewpoints, the person trying to kill them must be in the room with them.
Galois confesses that he didn't prove Goldbach's conjecture, he only claimed to do so to win back Oliva; he destroyed his own presentation to avoid revealing his failure. Hilbert reveals that he has spent his entire professional life trying to prove Goldbach's conjecture, and that he is the mastermind, intent on avenging himself on Galois for beating Hilbert to the proof. Hilbert discloses that Fermat was a diversion to direct attention away from himself, and that Fermat will be killed when a poisonous gas is released in his car. Hilbert was driven even harder by news of Galois' work on the proof, and that he's actually succeeded. He hands a folder with his work to Galois. Galois admits that Hilbert's proof is brilliant. Frustrated by their impending doom, Galois becomes angry and strikes Hilbert, rendering him unconscious.
Pascal realizes that the real Oliva, Galois, Fermat and Pascal each died at the same age as the current age of the guests to whom their names were assigned, but the real Hilbert died at 81, much older than the unconscious man before them. They conclude that Hilbert had an escape plan and did not intend to die with them. A furious search begins, and they find a breakable panel behind the chalkboard. Pascal, Oliva, and Galois escape with Hilbert's proof, leaving behind the unconscious Hilbert. As they row across the river to their cars, Galois comments that he doesn't want to release Hilbert's solution under Hilbert's name, because then Hilbert "wins". He admits releasing it under his own name would be unethical but would solve his professional problems. Pascal grabs the folder and scatters the pages upon the river, remarking that the world is still the same with or without the proof.
- Alejo Sauras: "Galois" (a reference to Évariste Galois)
- Elena Ballesteros: "Oliva" (a reference to Oliva Sabuco)
- Lluís Homar: "Hilbert" (a reference to David Hilbert)
- Santi Millán: "Pascal" (a reference to Blaise Pascal)
- Federico Luppi: "Fermat" (a reference to Pierre de Fermat)
Fermat's Room was originally released in Spain on November 16, 2007. It grossed approximately 284,000 USD in its opening weekend there. The movie was released in the United States in international film festivals in early 2009, before going directly to DVD. Blockbuster Inc. acquired a temporary exclusive license for its rental release in the United States.