Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Words: B. Halford
For all of his life, Jack (Tremblay) has lived with his mother (Larson) in “Room”, a shed where they are held by a kidnapper named “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). With Jack’s entire worldview based around Room, he refuses to believe there’s a world outside; but when he succeeds in escaping, he enters a new place that he and his mother have little idea how to cope with.
Based on the novel by Emma Donaghue (who also wrote the film’s screenplay), Room is an emotionally-charged drama with some interesting ideas to showcase. Stories of abduction and unlawful imprisonment are sadly nothing new and are also common fodder for cinema, but Room is able to hold its own thanks to its particular sense of priorities.
Conventionally, films that have dealt with abduction have been from the stance of either the victim trying to escape or an investigation into the crime itself. The former is only the case in the beginning of the film and the latter is virtually non-existent. Instead we get a view of what life is like for those who have experienced abduction in the aftermath from the media attention to the psychological trauma; something that needs skill to pull off.
As such, a great deal of credit has to go to the film’s two leads, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. As an actress, Larson is given a rather mammoth task of playing a character whose situation would probably be fraught with conflicting emotions and whilst the full range of emotions isn’t perhaps used to its greatest potential, it’s still an impressive performance. What is perhaps more impressive is young Jacob Tremblay whose strong presence and grasp on emotions belies his youth making something of a young actor to watch for in the future. In the supporting cast, Joan Allen is a rock steady role as Larson’s mother whilst both William H. Macy and Tom McCamus both give memorable supporting performances as Larson’s two father figures.
With awards season upon us, it’s not a mystery as to why this film has been given such buzz. It does tick several boxes that the board members of these awards like but its praise is far from undeserved. It’s a particularly strong batch of films heading up the Oscars this year and Room could be in with a good chance of getting some recognition. More modest in its presentation than say The Revenant or Mad Max: Fury Road (I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that I live in a world where the conservative and genre-film phobic Academy have recognised a Mad Max movie), that just allows the powerful nature of the film’s subject, writing and performances shine through all the more.