Lenny Abrahamson / Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers / Drama-Thriller / 2016 / 15 / 117mins
If you’re claustrophobic you’re gonna shit yourself when you see this.
Now that we’ve whittled down to the tough bastards who brave dramas for breakfast, I’ll give you a little more solid info. Adapted from Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel, Lenny Abrahamson has directed what some would regard as a play, a close encounter with a horrifying ordeal from the perspective of our otherwise unware narrator Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a 5 year old boy who has only ever known Room. You see, he was born into it. There is nothing but ROOM.
Funnily enough, all the audience sees is Room too, for the first hour at least. Jack doesn’t fear Room, so why should we? The chilling twist is his Ma, Joy (Brie Larson), was kidnapped at 17 and held captive within a soundproofed shed at the end of the garden of her captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). It’s no spoiler to reveal they escape Old Nick’s clutches, the magic lies in observing how two individuals irrevocably bound together transition through this period of trauma.
Room melds genres to construct a beautifully halved 60 minute thriller and 50 minute drama together. Two simple parts: the ordeal and escape; then the recovery. This unification allows a dramatic shift in emotion, dialogue and action to be conveyed effectively by the cast. Brie Larson delivers way beyond expectation. Her recent Golden Globe success was no fluke – I finally understand the hype. To express Joy’s turmoil through facial and body language – being strong for her son; bringing him up in the least psychologically damaging way; dealing with their crisis – is masterful. She’s 26 years old and probably going to win an Oscar… we might as well give up. Tremblay is a fantastic prospect, hopefully not another wasted child star. Minor actors deserve mention – a personal highlight would be Tom McCamus, who plays step-dad/grandad Leo. What I love about their performances are their hyper-realistic reactions to the emotional toll of the plot. Even certain shots, especially when Jack escapes, stick to the concept at hand, emphasising first person trauma when the real world is revealed to him, the light and the dark.
The Oscar sharks are already swarming round this mini-masterpiece, and I’m not surprised – they do love a good drama. Their beady eyes, however, are firmly stuck on leading lady Brie Larson, and damn right, she’s outstanding. My only criticism – perhaps the drama segment goes on for too long? It seems to spiral out with a lack of coherency, just a series of events. Although an apt representation of Joy and Jack’s newfound experience of time, it could have been edited shorter; we don’t need to immerse ourselves in their sorrow. The decisive reason for not giving full marks – not everyone is gonna enjoy the harrowing experience. Or rather, a 5 star thriller followed by a 4 star drama?
A dark drama with oomph – not for the weak hearted.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 5 / General Audience – 3
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“Room Poster” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.