Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Wendy Crewson, Sandy McMaster, Matt Gordon, Amanda Brugel, Joe Pingue, Joan Allen, William H. Macy | Written by Emma Donoghue | Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
A room is an enclosed space, no matter how many windows it has. It is a confinement that restricts our world while we are in it. In Room, there are many rooms that restrict the world of Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and some they may not escape…
In Room we meet Jack on his fifth birthday, living in his little world that he was born into. Trapped within the 10-by-10-foot space they are held there by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). When Ma realises that they have to escape the room, Jack fights it, not believing that the outside world exists. When they finally escape though, they find their biggest battle is surviving a life outside the walls of Room.
It comes as no surprise that Brie Larson won an Oscar for her portrayal of Ma, and that Jacob Tremblay was nominated. When you watch the film you do really think that he should have won. While you would expect the focus of the film to be on the situation of Ma, all focus is really on Jake, and his changing world. While room does have an inspirational edge to it, for the most part it is a harrowing experience. This arguably comes from the fact that recent history has shown people have been abducted and hidden in rooms very much like the ones that we see in the film. Through the knowledge of these crimes, we are fully aware of where Jack has originated from, and we have this confirmed by the presence of Old Nick.
The character of Old Nick is an ominous one for the audience, but to Jack he is almost a god like character who controls his world of Room, which is one of the harrowing aspects. The fact that “Old Nick” itself is a name used to represent the Devil is telling. We are never given redeeming characteristics for this character, we just know he is a dominating character who has kidnapped this woman, controls everything about her world and fathered Jack.
It really isn’t a spoiler to reveal that they do escape the room, and it is an important plot device to give the film a refresh of sorts. The moment we have the escape there is such a feeling of elation for the audience that you do feel like cheering for Jack and his mother. It is very telling though that we soon realise that the imprisonment of the two hasn’t ended, and this is how the film is show.
Lenny Abrahamson’s direction is masterful, as is Danny Cohen’s cinematography as we are continually reminded of the enclosed nature of almost every room Ma and Jack are in. To Jack the outside world is a chaotic environment of strange lights and movements, a world he can’t handle. It is his dealing of this world that becomes the focus, just as his happiness in the Room is too. You really feel pity for the child trapped in himself (like a Room metaphor) who must learn to survive and actually live in a whole new world.
Room is a film that you will find harrowing, and in many ways it is more effective than many horror films that strive to scare. This is because it is a human story that we can relate to. Through perfect performances by Brie Larson and Jack Tremblay, and supporting actors such as Joan Allen and William H. Macy, Room encloses you and makes you live the experience of Ma and Jack. That is its power and what makes it a truly great and must see movie.
Room is out in the UK on DVD and Blu-Ray now.