Synopsis: After 5-year old Jack and his Ma escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world.
Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Running Length: 118 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: You know those times in movies when the tears come more from relief than sadness? Room has one of those moments where the tears just sprang from my eyes without much warning. Up until that moment we’ve been so invested in the two main characters that the threat against them and the possibility of denied salvation just gets to be too much. I’m getting ahead of myself, though…and dangerously close to spoiler territory (not that the trailer didn’t give away several key developments already).
Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her 2010 bestseller, Room is narrated largely by young Jack (brilliant newcomer Jacob Tremblay) who has only known life with his Ma (Brie Larson, The Spectacular Now) inside what he calls ‘room’. ‘Room’ is a securely locked tiny living quarters with a bed, a makeshift kitchen, a small bathtub, and a wardrobe where Jack sometimes sleeps when a man he calls Old Nick visits. As audience members, we gradually learn that Old Nick took Jack’s Ma when she was a teenager and has been holding her captive for years.
Being stowed away for all that time, Ma has given up hope of ever being released and has created a world inside ‘room’ where she and Jack can make it through day in and day out. Ma cares deeply for Jack and keeps the dark crime surrounding their imprisonment a secret from him…even though he’s a daily reminder of the violations inflicted on her. When an opportunity arises for escape, the mother and son must overcome their own fears of the life outside to make the moves necessary to secure their freedom.
It’s no secret that Ma and Jack are liberated from their confines but the story is far from over as both have a major adjustment to make back in the real world outside of ‘room’. Jack is experiencing a life of wide-open space and new knowledges denied him until that point. Ma works through her painful realizations of the true effect the lost time has had on her emotionally as well as physically. Living with her mother (a stoic, supportive Joan Allen, The Bourne Legacy) and stepfather, Jack and Ma take divergent paths toward redemption that brings them closer to each other as a unit and as individuals.
Larson’s portrayal of Ma is one of the best performances you’ll see all year, resisting the urge to elicit pity and opting instead for finding renewed strength as she goes along. She takes you on a journey through the mind of someone that was caged and then set free…what that does to a psyche and how to move forward is a difficult internal thread to show externally but Larson somehow manages to do it. Tremblay, too, is a marvelous presence of the film as a representation of pure innocence. Tremblay and Larson form a symbiotic, cohesive partnership to such an extent that I’m not sure either performance could have existed without the other.
Director Lenny Abrahamson opts for a decidedly non-flashy execution, letting Donoghue’s script play out with honesty. Room is in intense watch, there’s no getting around it. When you step back and think of the kidnapping, repeated molestation, and confinement for all these years you wonder how anyone could have survived that alone. Larson and Tremblay show you how they got through it together.