Room (2015) Movie Reviews

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A non-traditional thriller with another brilliant turn from Brie Larson but an even better one from Jacob Tremblay.

Room (2015) Movie Reviews

Room (2015) Movie Reviews

Room is a harrowing thriller, but not in the traditional sense of the word. It deals with a dark subject matter and the first half of the film can be quite disturbing. Yet director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) has adapted the best-selling novel with grace and grandeur. Here is a film so artistically unique and deviant, chock full of genuine emotion thanks to two outstanding performances, that isn't afraid to take risks and surprise at every turn.

Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, Room introduces us to Ma and Jack, a mother and son held captive in a garden shed. As we learn more about their captivity, their world becomes clearer and clearer to us. They live by a routine, have names for every object in room, and Ma must be careful as her son grows older and more curious.

The film is structured into two halves, and by now it's no spoiler that the second half deals with their readjustment into the outside world, and Jack's first time outside of room. The film is thematically complex, yet never overwhelming. At its core it's about motherhood, but Jack's unique upbringing complicates things.

Director Lenny Abrahamson is no stranger to the strange, and with Room he's made a masterpiece of filmmaking. The entire idea of 'room,' the abstract concept of space, is ever-present in the production. In their bubble of room, Ma and Jack are restricted, as evident by Abrahamson's close angles and tight shots. The small space allows for high concept filmmaking, and when they get out of room, it only gets better, with a new color palette and experimental camera angles through Jack's eyes. The entire film is seen through the eyes of this child, and it's genius. What I loved about the book was its focus on Jack and how he adjusts to seeing this new world for the first time, and the movie never loses sight of that.

I wrote about the pressure placed on child actors in my review for the incredible Beasts of No Nation, and Jacob Tremblay fits like a glove. Like Abraham Attah, he isn't a child actor, but an actor who just happens to be of a younger age. His wide eyes and expressive thoughts are very believable, and when he sees the outside world for the first time, it's a thing of beauty. Tremblay has brilliant chemistry with Brie Larson, and for one second I never doubted her devotion to him. As Ma faces frustrating upon leaving room, from her parents, doctors, and the media, she never forgets her son Jack, and always puts his wellbeing first. Larson taps into this character, one that undergoes a stunning transformation as she basically lost seven years of her life being locked up. Her performance will blow you away.

The best actors are the ones able to transport you into their characters' own universes, no matter how isolated from society they happen to be. Larson, Tremblay, and Joan Allen all have a tremendous range of emotional ability and are able to sell you on their story not just for two hours, but for an entire lifetime. With Room, Abrahamson goes the extra mile with his direction, and director of photography Danny Cohen keeps all eyes on Jack. The film asks us to examine how we view the world and how this viewpoint is shaped by our nurtured upbringing. The result is a breathtaking experience brought to life, one you won't soon forget.

Imagine yourself as a 5 year old child discovering for the first time a brand new world exists outside of your room
At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival the film "ROOM" won the People's Choice Award today. It tells a story of a young woman and her five year old son who have been held in captivity in a confined and windowless living space for six years. Brie Larson stars as Ma and her son named Jack is played by Jacob Tremblay who is so believable that you will feel empathetic towards their captivity but relief as to how Ma convinces Jack that their little world is real and is wonderful. 

As Jack grows he starts to ask questions about their isolated lifestyle and we the audience anticipate that Ma must try and escape with young Jack but how?

The story draws similarities to the actual events that were Jaycee Lee Dugard's true life story which occurred on June 10, 1991, in South Lake Tahoe, California. Dugard was 11 years old at the time she was abducted from a street while she was walking from home to a school bus stop and she was held captive for the next 18 years in a concealed back yard in a make shift shed. There is also some resemblance to the kidnapping of Amanda Berry who had a child fathered by her kidnapper Ariel Castro. This film was titled Cleveland Abduction and it was released in 2015. It tells the true story of three girls who were held captive for over 10 years by Ariel Castro in his home with no one aware how close the girls were to their own homes and families.

The film Room focuses more on Jack and Ma's awkward adjustment to life outside of their room which was their entire world for the past six years. There is a strong supporting cast including performances such as Joan Allen's role as Jack's loving Grandma and the ever convincing all-star William H Macy as a resistant Grandpa who is having difficulty accepting that his daughter is raising her rapist's son. 

There are some scenes that are so heartwarming that it will be difficult not to find yourself becoming emotionally involved. In one particular very touching and loving scene, Jack asks his Grandma to cut his long hair so that the strength that he thinks that his shoulder length hair possesses can be transferred over to his sick Ma so she can return home from the hospital. Jack who understandably is initially withdrawn from anyone other than his Ma simply tells his Grandma after she washes and cuts his hair that he loves her. This loving scene between Jack and his Grandma will stay with me forever. 

Jack and Ma's is a story of isolation, fear, hopelessness versus hope and most importantly a film about redemption and the family bond. Room is deserving of an Oscar nomination for best picture and nominations in a few other categories as well such as best actress, best actor and best director. I give the film a 9.5 out of 10 rating. This film is terrific!!

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