Room: Small Movie Leaves Big Impression
Brie LarsonJacob Tremblay
In 1 Cinema
It’s not often that you come across a film as affecting as Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. Based on Emma Donoghue’s bestselling book of the same name, this is not an easy film to digest, but its gripping and hopeful story about the bond between a mother and child who have been subjected to years of isolation is an excellent reminder of the quality of accessible cinema outside of the Hollywood loop.
Brie Larson stars as Ma – a role for which the talented actress just won her first Oscar for. We learn that, after an innocent encounter with a stranger seven years prior, she’s imprisoned in a tiny shed by her psychopathic captor who she refers to as Old Nick (Bridgers). Two years into her captivity, she gave birth to Jack (Tremblay); an inquisitive little force of nature who, as the film opens, is waking up on the morning of his fifth birthday.
“Good morning Lamp, good morning Sink, good morning Plant,” is how Jack greets his surroundings, who to him are not just objects, but characters in the only world he knows. He has never stepped one foot out of the shed – a space they both refer to as Room – and Ma is the only person he has ever spoken to. Apart from a skylight, they have no connection to the outside world, save for Old Nick, who drops in for late-night visits while Jack is safely tucked away in his bed in the wardrobe. Growing tired of their routine and worried that Jack’s increasing curiosity will soon be difficult to control, Ma begins hatching an escape plan.
Watching Room unfold on the big screen, especially the story’s first act where the audience gets their first glimpse into Ma and Jack’s world and their already well-established routine, is at times excruciating, though uplifting all the same. Approaching the subjects of abuse, youthful innocence and parental love with a great deal of intimacy, confidence and restraint, Abrahamson stays away from melodrama, providing Room with plenty of complexity and emotional weight to carry its simple setup through.
As for its characters, they are brought to life by two magnificent performances – Larson is exceptionally raw in her portrayal of a woman who will do anything to shield her child, while Tremblay embraces his character’s innocence and sense of wonder perfectly. Chilling, emotional and ultimately rewarding, Room may be a difficult watch, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.