Certain subjects are hard to explore in cinema. Often they are dealt with in an overtly sentimental manner, or are brutally real to the point of being exploitative. Since Room tackles topics of rape, kidnapping, suicide, and mental health, you wouldn’t be blamed for being a little apprehensive as to what writer Emma Donogue and director Lenny Abrahamson have come up with.
Room is narrated by five year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who has been kept in one room with his Ma (Brie Larson) for his entire life. On his birthday, Ma enlists Jack in her escape plan, and from there we watch Jack, Ma and Ma’s family deal with the fallout of the abduction.
The film is well shot, using a handheld camera that somehow enhances the film’s realism. There is also great use of silence, where the director and sound designer have confidence in the image and performance to get a visceral emotional response. The scene where Jack and Ma reunite after being rescued reduced the theatre to tears.
The actors grasp their roles with both hands to deliver powerful and raw performances as a family trying to piece themselves back together; indeed, Brie Larson has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance. The lynchpin of the film, however, is a fantastic child performance by Tremblay. One could see this film going to hell in a handbasket with a weak child actor; however he is perhaps the most important and integral part of the entire film, as he makes Jack and his relationship with Ma feel very real and believable.
That isn’t to say that the film is without its faults. Once Jack and Ma leave the room, the story starts to lose both focus and subtlety as we watch them enter the wider world. The plot becomes a series of vignettes with a range of quality; there are some that are good, others that are important, and then a few that venture into the downright manipulative. Similarly, the gift card philosophy also gets grating after a while.
This is an excellent exploration of the psychological ramifications of kidnap, not only considering the victim of the kidnap, but also the wider implications of such an event’s aftermath. Despite a few stumbles into the sentimental, Room walks a fine line between the emotional and the real to make it a must see.
Is it worth watching?
+ Stellar acting
– Occasionally laboured
Watch the trailer for Room
[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Ci-pAL4eE” controls=”no” showinfo=”no” rel=”no” modestbranding=”yes”]