Review: Room

Last year, I heard about a movie that was receiving widespread acclaim and was hailed as the frontrunner to win the Oscar for Best Picture. That movie was Boyhood and though it didn’t end up winning Best Picture, it was a rare cinematic experience to watch as it probably was for Richard Linklater to make and I never thought I would see and experience a movie that would incite such an emotional response from me until I saw this film called Room.

Image by A24

For seven years, a young woman named Joy, played by Brie Larson, has been held captive in a windowless 10-by-10 foot space by her captor who calls himself Old Nick, played by Sean Bridgers. During her captivity, she gave birth to a son named Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay, and during his upbringing, Joy taught him that Room and everything in it was the world, that there was nothing beyond the walls and TV was a one-way portal to another planet and things like trees and trains weren’t real.

One day, Joy hatches a risky but successful escape attempt and Jack and Joy are freed from their confines and are reunited with Joy’s family, but integration into the outside world is difficult for the both of them.

Watching Room was a totally immersive experience for me. When Jack and Joy, who is dubbed Ma in the film, were in Room, “living” their daily lives under Old Nick’s thumb, I could barely breathe myself; it was completely suffocating and claustrophobic and the angst and tension between the three characters raised the suspense level and it was addicting.

At the conclusion of the film, when Jack and Ma, return to room to get their closure and say goodbye, the feeling of claustrophobia was gone and I could see that these two characters, two creatures have truly evolved past the experience of being held slave in a cage like animals. The character arcs for both Joy and Jack are a wonder to behold and were played to absolute perfection.

Brie Larson is, in a word, powerful. I haven’t been so floored by a performance like hers since I beheld Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave; Larson’s performance in this movie may have placed her on the fast-track to win the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

If I have encouraged any of my readers to see Room, I urge them to remember the name Jacob Tremblay because you will not forget him after seeing this movie. Room is a coming out party for Tremblay who completely owns his debut performance as Jack. His performance especially, I likened it to how a caged animal behaves when it is introduced to either its new environment or its natural environment and he plays this with such innocence and depth; he’s an incredible young talent.

Room featured excellent two performers. The rest of the cast, including Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus don’t exactly have much to offer or a lot of screentime, but they are contributors.

If there was a third strong performance in Room, it would be Joan Allen’s role as Joy’s mother, Nancy. Allen compliments Larson and Tremblay’s roles perfectly.

Image by Reuters/Fred Thornhill

Director Lenny Abrahamson did a phenomenal job with Room. The development and progression of this feature was so organic and natural to witness and coupled with Emma Donoghue’s screenplay, this is hands-down one of the best features of 2015.

What makes Room so powerful is the moments it possesses. For instance, when Ma and Jack are reunited outside of Room, after Jack manages to follow Ma’s instructions, they embrace and Ma is completely overwhelmed at the victory over Old Nick and their now-won freedom, that was as powerful as it gets and Room has a lot of powerful moments to offer.

I also credit Danny Cohen’s incredible camerawork. The use of close-ups especially heightened the sense of claustrophobia I experienced, especially in the scenes where Ma and Jack are trapped in Room.

I also found the editing of Nathan Nugent, especially excellent. Every cut and jump, came across as smooth and as sound as possible; I was not lost and I doubt anyone would be lost when it comes to this film.

I wasn’t a big fan of the music though. Sometimes it felt as if Stephen Rennicks’ score was completely out of place.

What Room is, is a fascinating character study about two caged animals yearning to be free, but need to be incrementally reintroduced to society and all its wonders and perils.

This movie ranks among the few films I consider the best of the best this year and I believe Room will be a significant player at the awards circuits in a few weeks.


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