Tom Holland proves to the world that he can take on serious roles as competently as he can take on all those crazy Spiderman and action superheroes roles. In The Crowded Room (slight spoiler alert! Do not read further if you are not prepared to know more about the plot of The Crowded Room), Tom plays Danny, a complex character that suffers from something termed as Dissociative Identity Disorder which is basically someone who has multiple personalities. He gets himself arrested for shooting in public in the middle of New York City and becomes the subject of observation by therapist Rya (played by Amanda Seyfried). We the viewers slowly learn about Danny’s personality disorder as we follow the rigorous face to face sessions that Rya had with Danny in the interrogation room over the series first 5 episodes. Then, the series makes a dramatic change in focus by telling the story from Rya’s point of view and through flashbacks, to further reveal the truth behind Danny’s past and present life, culminating in the courtroom drama that unfolds to determine if Danny is guilty or not guilty of attempted murder.
The Crowded Room is a work of fiction, but it plays like one of those dramatisation of a true life story and hence has a believable atmosphere to it. Perhaps this is because it is inspired by the 1981 non-fiction novel The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes. Despite the deliberate slow burn approach in telling the story, the series is never boring as the characters are all so well developed and interesting. This is probably in part due to the exceptional contribution by Academy Award winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, Akiva Goldsman who wrote wrote and created The Crowded Room.
The highlight of the series is undoubtably Tom Holland’s impressive performance in demonstrating the multiple personalities that is saddled within his mind. He handled the some of the more sentimental moments with such understatement that they really hit the emotional level of the viewers with little warning. In fact, it was reported that Tom Holland decided to take a year off acting totally after he made this series because of the mental toil and stress from playing Danny. Based on this series, it is obvious that Tom Holland is a young actor that has an enormous potential, and we can expect to enjoy seeing him perform in more exciting projects in future.
Amanda Seyfried did a great job as well playing the therapist who slowly uncovers the truth behind Danny. She started off low key with the initial episodes, but the second half other series allowed her to develop her character further into someone that is far more than an interrogator.
If I have anything complain I would say the second half of the series pacing was a bit off for me. The various scenes surrounding the court case went on a bit longer than I would have liked as I felt they slowed things down a bit especially since the big reveal of Danny’s situation has already been revealed. Nevertheless, The Crowded Room is without doubt one of the better series today and I highly recommend it.