Boom! Shake shake shake the room!
Director: Lenny Abrahamson. Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy, Joan Allen .Genre: Drama. Running time: 118 minutes.Certificate: UK (15), USA (PG-13)
The past 12 months have seen a number of fabulous book to film adaptations: Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, The Revenant and Fifty Shades of Gray (kidding!). Room, however, is no joke and certainly makes a worthy addition to the list.
Based on the best-selling and award winning novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the script, the film revolves around 5 year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his young Ma (Brie Larson) who are held captive in a small confined space they’ve named ‘Room’. Ma was kidnapped seven years ago by a cruel man only known as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) and as a result of his repeated rape, gave birth to Jack. Living there his entire life, Room is all Jack knows while the outside world is a fairy tale to him.
As Jack starts to gradually grow more curious about what’s going on, Ma seizes the opportunity to plot a desperate bid for their freedom. What follows is an extremely powerful tale of love, fear, survival and hope.
At first thought the story behind Room sounds somewhat farfetched but in the past 20 years the terrible cases of kidnapping and abuse by monsters such as Josef Fritzl, Ariel Castro and Aravindan Balakrishnan give the events in Room a scary sense of actuality.
Director Lenny Abrahamson (2014’s Frank) admirably avoids taking Room down an overblown and exploitative route of displaying abduction as instead he gives us an honest and raw film about how the unbreakable bond between parent and child can overcome such an horrendous ordeal.
The foundation Abrahamson builds Room on is Ma and Jack’s relationship which is remarkably portrayed in an exceptionally realistic and relatable way that makes you feel like a fly-on-the-wall watching a real-life mother and son together. Ma and Jack are each other’s rocks. Ma shields Jack from the doom and gloom of Room while Jack provides Ma with a reason to go on living.
Their journey throughout the film is filled with soaring highs and sinking lows as Abrahamson’s compelling drama often zig zags between heart-warming and heart-breaking territory. One minute we’re treated with a tender moment between Ma and Jack, the next we’re force fed a bleak reminder of the grim reality they’re victim to.
Visually Abrahamson’s inventive direction continuously finds new ways to show the 10×10 area which gives you the feeling of intense claustrophobia but also the homeliness Ma and Jack have given the place.
Abrahamson also gives Room more investable high stakes than a bombastic big-budget blockbuster climax as he crafts a pulse-pounding midpoint sequence that has more oomph and gravity than when the fate of the world is threatened. Following the halfway mark, some viewers may understandably feel Room loses momentum but to its credit Donoghue’s script handles the aftermath of a particular event gives us a sobering reality rather than a happy ending we might crave too see.
The script also asks some thought-provoking questions about parenting as it ponders how one’s upbringing can shape their life.
While Abrahamson and Donoghue’s work makes Room a gem, it would not glimmer near as bright if it weren’t for the two leading performances. Larson, best known for her roles in comedies 21 Jump Street and Trainwreck, shows she has dramatic chops and them some in an outstanding effort. She displays emotional range as wide as the ocean in a role that demands bravery, frailty and affection. There’ll be no doubt she’s deserving of her Golden Globe win and will surely be a strong contender to take home an Oscar for Best Actress this year.
Prepare to be floored by Tremblay’s equally tremendous turn as it would not be a stretch to say that he gives one of the best child performances ever witnessed onscreen. The youngster, who was only 8 at the time of filming, exhibits all the glee, innocence and spirit of a little boy while superbly being able to show the confusing and excruciating experience he goes through.
Overall Room is a tough watch which will most likely require a box or two of tissues. Some audiences may not be able to cope with the emotional onslaught it hurls at them but in the end it rewards viewers for the struggle it puts them through thanks to a pair of perfect performances and its message of love prevailing no matter what. Room scores a:
1ish – 2ish Stay away at ALL costs!!!
3ish – 4ish A bad film, not Michael Jackson Bad, but just straight up bad
5ish – 6ish Probably worth seeing at some point
7ish – 8ish A fantastic film definitely worth watching whenever you can
9ish -10 Unmissable – go watch it now!!!
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