As the Academy Awards (with all the controversies and changes) are only a month away, let’s review – Room – another movie dealing with quite a heavy and depressing subject matter.
I watched this film in the small art cinema (like Carol) with a bunch of elders and retired people (it was daytime). It was definitely a different experience, seeing the film on a smaller screen in a tiny room than watching it in a big hall with a huge screen. Independent cinemas are cozier and don’t have many distractions, thus, the viewers can get sucked into a movie much more. In the case of Room, the topic of the picture was so uncomfortable (at least the first half) that I, personally, wanted to step back, but couldn’t, so the themes and ideas of the movie were unavoidable. Also, the cozy atmosphere of the movie theater and the shocking subject matter of the film created a huge and jarring contrast.
Lastly, this whole tiny passage of the review got me thinking, which kind of cinema do I prefer? The big commercial one or the tiny artistic one? In the end, it probably depends on a film that I am watching…
IMDb summary: After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.
Writing and Story
Room’s screenplay was written by Emma Donoghue. It was her second script ever and also an adaptation of her highly successful book of the same name. As I have mentioned before, the first half of the film dealt with very uncomfortable and tragic subject – kidnapping and raping of Brie Larson’s character for 7 years. As I haven’t seen the trailer or read any reviews before going to see the film, I was very surprised that they managed to escape from the room on the 2nd attempt and were out in the world by the middle of the film and the end of the first act. But then again, this film was not about the room but about the people in the room. It was a story of these two individuals getting to know the world anew or for the very first time, while simultaneously being about the world and society, trying to deal with having two new and very damaged members. In short, the film was about adjusting rather than escaping.
I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the escape sequence. The policewoman who managed to get the location out of Jack was very smart and efficient, and I was quite happy to see police force represented in quite a good way. However, I also didn’t understand, how they did not find them sooner? Also, I found it quite weird that the kidnapper gave up and just ran away after a single unsuccessful attempt to drag Jack back to the car. Lastly, I wish that they would have answered the question if the kidnapper was ever caught? The news report on the TV implied that the suspect was arrested, but that line of the plot was never followed up. Another thread of the story that seemed to be forgotten for no reason was Joy’s real dad’s resentment of Jack, because his father was the kidnapper. I would have liked to know if the dad ever came to his right senses and embraced his grandson. The moment of the film that I disliked the most was that reporter, questioning Joy’s parenting skills. That kind of journalism is the reason why I decided not to become a journalist myself.
The film’s story revolved around the mother (Joy) and her son (Jack) and the main focus of the narrative would jump from one character to the other. We started with Joy, then moved onto Jack and repeated this pattern a few times, while centering on Jack at the end of the film, because he was/is the future of that family. I also liked that they presented the idea of plasticity: Jack, still being a little kid and open to the world, assimilated into the society quicker and easier than Joy, who was too stubborn and, I felt, acted too over dramatic at times. I know that she had a lot of anger bottled up inside her, but inflicting that pain on others or hurting herself were not the best ways to deal with the situation.
The film was narrated by Jack, so the viewers were able to see this story through innocent eyes of the child, who only sees good in a world. It was a different perspective than the one that an adult would have to these horrible events, but I think that it made the film more unique and fresh. It also added tons of hope to the film and, when the credits appeared on screen, I at least felt that Joy and Jack will be okay and that they left the past behind.
I loved how the begging and the ending of the film correlated. We started with ‘Good Morning’ and ended with ‘Bye’. The film gave the viewers closure and calmed then down. The movie assured us that, although these tragic events have happened, Joy and Jack will live on and that we, as people, should also live on, despite the horrible events and tragedies that occur in the world. Hope is the only thing that keeps humanity from completely destroying itself, so we, as people, should embrace it.
Directing and Visuals
Room was directed by Lenny Abrahamson. It was only his 5th picture. He also directed 2014’s Frank which is on my list of films to watch. I believe that Abrahamson did an amazing job. First of all, he worked with a child actor for the majority of the film’s scenes and somehow managed to direct him wonderfully. Of course, that might also be to the actor’s Jacob Tremblay’s credit. In addition, I liked how Abrahamson somehow managed to make the actual room feel bigger than it was and not claustrophobic at all. With his camera work and the visuals, he conveyed this idea that this tiny space that these two people shares was enough for them, that they were as happy as they could be while being held,prisoners. I also liked how the movie threw the viewers into the action and into the room right away with the blurry opening, full of close-ups. The whole handheld cinematography reminded me a bit of Andrea Arnold’s Fisk Tank. Although, it definitely was less shaky and much smoother.
The film main characters were played by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. I would not be able to tell you who of the two of them was the true lead of the film, because they were both equally important. Brie Larson is the front-runner at the Academy Awards for the Best Leading Actress award and she definitely deserves the win. Not only did she and the child actor Jacob worked together well, but her facial expressions were magnificent and heartbreaking. I have seen a few films starring Larson, but she has never really stuck out to me. I hope that she will do more dramatic films, because she shines in this type of a role. Tremblay was also perfect in the role of a young Jack. Child actors usually are the part of the film that annoys me the most, but he was the complete opposite. He definitely has a long career ahead of him.
The supporting cast of the movie had a few well know and accomplished actors in it: Joan Allen and William H. Macy were playing Joy’s parents, while Tom McCamus played Joy’s mum’s boyfriend, who was a much better granddad to Jack. Amanda Brugel played the smart police officer that I have already mentioned, while Cas Anvar played the doctor that helped Joy and Jack settle back in. Wendy Crewson starred as the reporter/talk show hostess that I disliked. Lastly, Deadwood’s Sean Bridgers played the kidnapper, who we never really got a chance to get to know. We never really found out, why he was doing what he was doing. In 2015, Bridgers also starred in Trumbo – another awards’ nominee, which I am planning to see next week.
In short, Room was a really great film, which told an uncomfortable, interesting, heartbreaking but hopeful story. The directing was also really nice, although it was overshadowed by the magnificent performances of the two leads. Room is a definite must watch to movie fans all over the world.
Trailer: Room trailer