Lenny Abrahamson’s Room -not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau’s The Room– adapts the Emma Donoghue novel of the same name and tells the story of a mother who is raising her son in captivity.
This is going to be a hard one to talk about as it should be experienced while knowing as little about it as humanly possible. I’m told that the trailer gives much of the story points away but I was fortunate enough to not see that in its entirety so I went into this film largely ignorant as to what to expect. It’s definitely the best way to experience it as the narrative throws a lot of curveballs that certainly kept me guessing.
The story is focused on the 5 year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Joy (Brie Larson) who both live in a single cramped space. It is made quickly apparent that they are being held against their will. Jack has lived his whole life in this place that he calls “Room” so doesn’t know anything different. His limited perspective causes him to think that everything he can see and touch is real with everything else being a fiction. It’s actually a fairly simple premise but the intricacies lie in the characters.
Jack is the focal point of the entire film and everything is taken from his perspective. We see his mother Joy through his eyes as well as the world he inhabits. It’s fascinating to see how he manages to contextualise everything in his life with a really limited perspective. His justification for what is real and what isn’t makes a great deal of sense given the situation. In many ways it reminds me of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave which suggests a similar idea of reality being distorted through a limited perception. It’s not exactly the same but it is definitely a comparison that could be made. It likely serves as an inspiration for this story on some level.
Jacob Tremblay delivers an excellent performance as Jack. Child actors are often hit and miss in and kind of film but he does such a great job that I wonder how such a young actor was made able to understand all of this and reflect that intensity through his performance. He puts across the naivety of a child who has never seen the outside world as well as projecting an astounding emotional range. This could be one of the finest child actor performances ever seen.
Brie Larson is also excellent as Jack’s mother, Joy. She always projects a sense of strength when raising Jack in these less than ideal conditions but the cracks are definitely starting to show. Joy has been locked up for a long time and has to be there for her son constantly. Since they share the same physical space all of the time she never gets a break so never gets the chance to let her emotions out. Larson tows the thin line between her strength of character and insanity wonderfully. The two actors work well and never stop feeling like mother and son, albeit with an unconventional quality to their relationship.
There is so much to the story and what I have said so far has barely scratched the surface but I really don’t want to spoil this for those of you who haven’t seen it as it really does deserve to be experienced rather than detailed here. The story does shift gears at one point and almost becomes a totally different film after that but it all feels natural and fits in with the rest of it. I would say that the second half of the film meanders slightly with some scenes that go on a lot longer than they need to but such instances are minor and it generally remains captivating throughout.
Visually the film is beautiful from beginning to end. “Room” is a very claustrophobic location and is often depicted as such but the beauty of Jack’s perspective is that can be shot to appear spacious since that is his world. There are points where it feels that there is plenty of space to move around despite how small the location really is. The dark and gloomy lighting compliments what is supposed to be a hopeless situation for Jack and Joy which creates an effective contrast with the natural light Jack is exposed to. Any lighting outside “Room” is shown to be harsh and unwelcoming as it is the opposite of what Jack is used to.
As I’ve said above be sure to experience this film and let the story absorb you the way that it should. It definitely will be a better experience to go in as blind as possible.
An excellent film that should be experienced as blindly as possible to get the full intended effect. It’s not easy in this day and age but it would definitely enhance the film.
The story is focused on the 5 year old Jack and his mother Joy who both live in a single cramped space. They are being held against their will and Jack has a limited perspective on the world since “Room” is all he has experienced. Jack thinks that everything he can see and feel is real with everything else he is exposed to being fictional. It is a really simple premise that is presented well with the intricacies lying in the wonderfully realised characters.
Jack is the focal point of the film and everything is taken from his perspective. We see his mother as well as the world he inhabits through his eyes. Seeing how he contextualises everything is fascinating and makes a lot of sense given the situation.
Jacob Tremblay delivers an excellent performance that probably numbers among the best of child actor performances ever put to film. He manages to perfectly convey the naivety as well as an astounding emotional range.
Brie Larson is also excellent. She always projects a sense of strength but the cracks are definitely starting to show. Larson tows the line between strength of character and insanity wonderfully.
Visually the film is beautiful with Jack’s perspective being taken advantage of to show the small location as if it were really spacious as this is how he views the world. The dark and gloomy lighting compliments the isolation and hopelessness with natural light seeming harsh and unwelcoming as Jack isn’t used to it.
As I’ve said try to experience this film as blindly as possible. It’s better to let the story absorb you the way that it should.