Playing Catch-Up: Room (dir by Lenny Abrahamson)


Room_Poster

Have you seen Room yet?

I ask because I’m debating how much information I should share in this review.  Room came out a few months ago and I’ve been late in reviewing it because watching the film was such an emotionally overwhelmingly experience that I wasn’t sure where to begin.  Now, all of this time has passed and I’m in a hurry to review this film because it’s obviously going to be nominated for some Oscars on Thursday morning and I’m wondering how much I can reveal without spoiling the movie.

It’s always tempting to say “Spoilers be damned!” but I’m not going to do that this time.  Room is a great film and it’s one that deserves to be discovered with a fresh mind.  I imagine that many people who missed the film the first time will see it once Brie Larson has been nominated for Best Actress.  Out of respect for those people, I am going to hold off from going into too much detail about the film’s plot.

Of course, this means that, if you haven’t seen the film, you’re going to have to have a little bit of faith in me.  You’re going to have to trust me.  When I tell you that this is an amazing film that will take you by surprise, you’re just going to believe me.  Because if I ruin those surprises … well, then they won’t be surprises anymore, will they?

When I first heard all the Oscar talk swirling around Room, my initial instinct was to make a joke about Tommy Wiseau finally getting the credit he deserves.  But then I saw Room and, within a few minutes of the film, I was in tears.  It’s hard for me to think of any other film this year that made me cry as much as Room.

Room is narrated by Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a 5 year-old boy whose hair is so long that he is frequently mistaken for being a girl.  Jack lives in a filthy room with Ma (Brie Larson).  The tiny room has only a toilet, a sink, a bed, a small kitchen area, and a cheap television.  There’s also the small closet where Jack sleeps and a skylight in the ceiling.  As quickly becomes apparent from his narration, Jack has never been outside of the room.  All he knows about the outside world comes from TV and the stories told to him by Ma.

Occasionally, a nervous man named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) enters the room.  Whenever Old Nick shows up, Ma orders Jack to hide in the closet.  However, even in the closet, Jack listens to Ma and Nick talking in the room.  Ma talks about how Nick kidnapped her when she was 17.  Nick talks about how he has recently lost his job and may not be able to continue to take care of his two prisoners.  Fearful for her life, Ma humors the self-pitying Nick.  Nick, meanwhile, plays the victim and complains about how difficult it is to keep her and Jack prisoner.  It quickly becomes apparent that Jack is Nick’s child.

Now that Jack is five, Ma knows that he’s old enough that she can tell him about her plan to escape from Nick.  However, escaping means exposing Jack to a world that he’s never experienced and that Ma fears she no longer remembers.

Meanwhile, Ma’s parents wonder what has happened to their missing daughter.  (It’s from her parents that we learn that, much like a character played by fellow Oscar contender Jennifer Lawrence, Ma’s name is Joy.)  Ma’s mother, Nancy (Joan Allen), is now divorced from Joy’s emotionally repressed father (William H. Macy).  Nancy is now married to the kind and appealingly disheveled Leo (Tom McCamus).  However, still hoping that her daughter will someday return, Nancy hasn’t even touched Joy’s old bedroom.

Finally, the opportunity comes for Ma and Jack to escape and…

…and that’s all I can tell you without spoiling the film.  Room is an emotionally exhausting film, one that will make you cry but which will also leave feeling strangely hopeful for the future.  Brie Larson gives a courageously vulnerable and emotionally raw performance as Joy while Jacob Tremblay is perfectly cast as Jack.  Since Larson and Tremblay are both getting a lot of attention as possible Oscar nominees, I want to take a few minute to single out one member of the cast who, so far, has been overshadowed.  Tom McCamus doesn’t have a lot of screen time but he makes the most of every second he gets, turning Leo into the ideal father figure.

Room made me cry and cry and I can’t wait to see it again.

35 responses to “Playing Catch-Up: Room (dir by Lenny Abrahamson)

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