Contemporary Review / Review


by Haley Goetz'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director saysBased on the 2010 novel by Emma Donoghue, Room is an emotionally-charged film that is sure to leave an imprint. Director Lenny Abrahamson really excels at bringing a great source-to-screen adaptation to life. The film carries with it an intrinsic weight, as its central topic is a rather dark thing to grapple with. Such heavy subject matter may be a bit difficult for some viewers to deal with, so it’s important to understand what you’re getting into prior to seeing it.

The film focuses on Ma (Brie Larson) and her child, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who are locked in a room. True to its title, most of the film’s action takes place in, or is centered around, this room. Later, everything becomes clear. The mother and her son have been trapped in this room by Nick, the mother’s captor, and they have been there for more than five years (Jack is exactly five years old when the story is told). The rest of the film centers around Ma and Jack’s transition into their new life as American citizens after they escape from Nick’s clutches.

Emma Donoghue wrote a wonderful screenplay for this film. Obviously, since she was the author of the novel the film is based upon, her script is very faithful to its original source. That being said, certain pertinent narrative elements are left out. It would have been more resonant to include more information on what happens to Nick after the events unfold (as the book did). However, one aspect of the plot that I particularly enjoyed was that there were essentially two distinct halves of its storyline. The first involves Ma and Jack’s entrapment in the room, which then dissolves into their subsequent escape and transition to the greater world they are a part of. I personally enjoyed the split linearity of it all, and how it seamlessly flowed together to form a concrete whole.

In his direction, Abrahamson used one particular cinematic technique that remained consistent throughout the film. Much of the film is shot in the close-up range, and this works quite well in that it gives the viewer access to the characters’ perspectives and headspaces. It becomes quite easy to not only see, but also understand, what the characters in the film are feeling. We’re obviously intended to oppose Nick and what he’s done to the two central characters, and Abrahamson certainly allows for the sympathies of his audience to fully lean toward Ma and Jack.

Brie Larson is already garnering some serious Oscar buzz for her performance and deservedly so. While her character is put into one of the toughest situations any person could be dealt, she still puts on a strong face for her son. In the few scenes that Larson’s Ma shows her actual emotions, she releases them convincingly. A scene in which she and Jack scream within the room was incredibly profound, in that a wholly different side of Larson’s character was shown. It’s hard to come across such a raw performance these days, so it was incredibly refreshing to see this.

Similarly impressive is Jacob Tremblay, who’s amazing as Jack. Despite being but nine years old, he acts far beyond his years, with his eyes conveying far more than his words. This is a hard thing for even seasoned actors to accomplish, and it’s spellbinding to see this feat pulled off by such a young face. Jack pulls his audience in by displaying a childlike fascination with the world around him. He almost acts as comic relief at certain points in the film, which lessens some of the situation’s overall dreariness. Later in the film, it’s marvelous to witness just how profound an effect the actual world has on the young Jack once he becomes immersed in it.

Overall, Room is a good film to see. The cast displays a great degree of talent, and the script is very powerful despite a few tidbits being left out that could have fleshed out the story. The directing works its magic as well, providing an emotional backdrop and a relatable sense of perspective. Don’t miss out on Room, for it is a moving experience that you won’t soon forget.

4 out of 5 stars

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