Room, which landed 4 Oscar nominations recently, including Best Picture, and Best Actress for Brie Larson, is emotionally disturbing and powerful in equal measure. Based on a novel by Emma Donaghue and scripted by the author herself, it’s one of those films that’s best experienced knowing as little as possible about it going in.
I’ll keep the details brief. A young woman and a 5-year-old boy have been living in an 11-by-11 feet room with only a tiny skylight in the roof. We realize that they’re being held captive; that she’s been there since she was kidnapped at the age of 17, and that she’s given birth to this child and raised him inside these four walls.
Directed with great sensitivity and ingenuity by Lenny Abrahamson, Room unravels through the perspective of little Jack (Jacob Tremblay). The full horror of their situation is revealed slowly and suggestively, even as his Ma (Larson) concocts elaborate scenarios and distracting devices to protect Jack from the ugly truth of imprisonment and rape.
The material may be grim and depressing, but seen through Jack’s eyes, their everyday existence has a nice whimsical feel to it. Since this is the only world he knows, all the inanimate things within the room are his friends. He begins each day, greeting his companions cheerfully: “Good morning, rug”, “good morning, table”.
What happens as the film progresses, I will not ruin for you. Except to say that Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay will blow you away. That little kid has an open book of a face, and he never “acts” for the camera – he just is. Brie Larson delivers an incredibly honest performance; it’s hard to find one wrong note in her utterly convincing depiction of unconditional love and self-sacrifice. They’re so authentic and natural together, you have to wonder how much preparation went into cementing this connection.
Room is as much about a fight for survival as it is a tale of captivity. It’s also about how a tiny space can be someone’s whole world, and how imprisonment can work on different levels.
I’m going with four out of five for Room. It’s not the most pleasant story to watch, but it’s a powerful, unsettling experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.