Movie Review – Room (2016)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus

Room is about the relationship between a mother (Larson) and her 5 year old son Jack (Tremblay). The two of them live in one room, with a skylight their only view of the outside world. Ma has tried to nurture her son and give him a fulfilling life, but as he grows older the room gets smaller and smaller, and she reaches a breaking point, knowing that for the sake of her son she is going to have to try and exact a daring escape.

Room almost feels like two different films stitched together, but both halves are captivating and enthralling. During the beginning portion I was trying to figure out why they were in the room, and my natural inclination was to think of a post-apocalyptic scenario and perhaps they were the last survivors, or that there would be some twist like that, but then I found out the actual reason and…wow that’s dark (I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible). Once I knew the reason I thought back to the earlier parts of the film and saw more nuance in Larson’s performance, and I know some will label this role as Oscar-bait because there’s a lot of screaming and crying, but there are a lot of contemplative moments as well, and I think Larson did a great job of showing a woman who is trying to hold herself together for the sake of her son, but it always at the very edge of her breaking point. Much of the praise of the film, however, will be directed at Tremblay, and suitably so. This young actor gives a stellar performance filled with a range of emotions, and it’s astounding that he could give such a performance when he doesn’t have the experience to tap into.

What the two of them go through is harrowing and sadly there have been real life occurrences that have been similar to this film. Despite the film changing tones somewhat, it is anchored in the relationship between Ma and Jack, and I found it interesting how their relationship adapted to the changing circumstances.

I haven’t read the book, but apparently it is told completely from Jack’s perspective. The film does have some shots from his point of view, and there are some instances in which the camera is focused on him but there are conversations happening around him, but I do feel there could have been more of this. I also think there were a couple of moments when the tension could have been drawn out to have an even bigger impact. This is a film where there is much left unsaid and much for the audience to interpret, which some may not like. I did however, and I felt that it was clear enough from the looks on the faces of the actors, or the body language.

The themes of the film come through strongly, and it did bring out my emotions, and I imagine that a lot of tears will be shed over Room. I still think there are a couple of points where it could have been improved upon, but Larson and Tremblay are so great that I can forgive the flaws in the film. Their relationship rings so true that I was practically immediately invested in them, and was moved by them.

 

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