A twenty-four year old woman escapes her captor of seven years with her five year old son, allowing him to experience the world for the first time. That is not the synopsis for a feel-good film. Yet somehow in its own incredibly depressing way, Room is a heart-warming tale. Maybe its this mixture of two opposing emotions that garnered the four Academy Award nominations for Room. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress are all the nominations Room achieved for this year’s upcoming Oscars. There’s no way of telling which awards it will pick up but its very easy to decide whether it is worthy.
Room is the kind of movie that you can gather the entire plot for yourself just by seeing the trailer. Although in this case that is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of thinking “what did I waste my time watching that for, I knew exactly what was going to happen”, its more indicative of the thought “yep that’s what I thought, sad and then happy and I’m glad that I spent the time to watch this film”. It could as easily be a television movie as a small drama capturing the Academy’s attention on February 28th.
It’s hard to decide whether giving so much away in the trailer was a good idea or not. For what is essentially the unfunny prequel to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Room has gone very spoilery in its trailer. The outcome of their escape could have been kept for a dramatic reveal considering they spend half of the movie trapped inside “Room”. Still, that would leave out this film’s hook of seeing how the two adapt to society. The filmmakers obviously had this difficult decisions themselves and went with the “¿por qué no los dos” option.
The story is told through five year old Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) eyes and this is where the film shines. Any five year old could watch this movie without being scarred for life. Jack is shielded enough from the horrors of his situation for his innocence to remain intact while the adult audience has been fed enough clues to pick up on the murky ongoings and their repercussions. Just enough clues to be exact, there are a lot of unaswered questions that add to the intrigue of the story. There’s enough juice there that the story could even be spun out into a mini-series or even full series as Hollywood is want to do these days. When everything is getting a bit too heavy, things will be reined in to bring a tear to the eye or a gulp to the throat. This Canadian-Irish movie just goes to show that if Hollywood is going to adapt a novel to the big screen then they need to go no further than the novel’s author. Emma Donoghue has done a fantastic job of bringing her characters to life in a believable and realistic manner. Her greatest achievement is in telling the story through the child’s eyes, the narration never gets lazy and is only in place to help with the flow of the movie.
In terms of actors, there could not have been a better choice than Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Brie Larson has the difficult job of having to act within her acting. Her character, Joy Newsome is putting on a brave face for her son and trying to keep her true feelings hidden for the sake of protecting his own. Her performance is subtle and understated but she keeps opening up the curtain just enough for the audience to see what Jack is not picking up on until their escape. At this point of the film she switches it up to let the PTSD seep through. If it was even possible, Jacob Tremblay’ s performance outshines that of his fictional Ma. Jacob Tremblay is one of the finest child actors since Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment. Everything he does on screen makes it possible for the audience and even a cynical critic forget that they are watching people play dress-up. He is as inquisitive, shy, loving and intuitive as any five year old boy.
There isn’t much else to say about Room, it’s two hour run is quite uneventful outside of the actual synopsis. The remaining cast is not really given much to do so their performances while good, don’t really stand out. Directing is not hugely impressive either. All the shots are very discreet to fit in with the theme of the movie so Lenny Abrahamson deserves some credit there but nothing stands out as particularly innovative or notable. As for the score, it too is restrained and slips by along with the rest of the film. Which in the age of booming speakers and glaring IMAX, it’s nice to see that not every film is out to destroy all of your senses. It’s not all completely unnoticeable though and when the drama asks of it in the one dramatic scene the score steps up to deliver a tension building, pounding indie film track.
In terms of storytelling this film is a unique and charming thriller but unfortunately with the horrific acts being performed by some of society’s true villains you will get the feeling that you have seen this story too often on today’s news. Luckily Room is not a true tale but it will provoke a long session of sad thoughts and pride for your own mother-child bond whether you sympathise with Joy or Jack. There is every chance that Room could sweep the carpet at the Oscars but then again this film is just as likely to be a place filler in lieu of what the Academy has already decided is set to win. Nevertheless this is a fantastic film to watch on a rainy day or to slip into a list of deep, though-provoking films when the mood strikes.