Disclaimer: This post was originally written for No Perfect Movie, but since the site has gone down, I’ve decided to transfer all my work onto this blog.
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy
Release Date: 16th October, 2015 (US) | 15th January, 2016 (UK)
“You’re gonna love it” | “What?”
Room tells the tale of five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who was born into captivity and raised by his devoted and long-suffering Ma (Brie Larson) in a 10-by-10-foot space. Unaware of the world outside of his cramped prison’s four walls, Jack’s curiosity grows with age. Eventually, Ma hatches a risky plan to escape their captor – bringing them face-to-face with something that neither mother nor son are ever fully prepared for: the real world.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Stephen Chbosky & Gillian Flynn, author-turned-screenwriter Emma Donoghue teams up with director Lenny Abrahamson to adapt her own best-selling novel of the same name – to great success. It’s an enthralling piece of work (on the page and on screen), and delicately balances its traumatic and devastating central themes with moments of pure joy and inspiration.
Room is a film of two halves – both demonstrate their own brilliance in very different ways. The first act is a dark blend of anticipation and sorrow, but it also helps cement a beautiful bond between a mother and child through a series of heartwarming scenes. The second half is no less distressing, however, it also retains a sense of hope and beauty. The change in pace is a dramatic one, but the dichotomy ultimately helps Donoghue give a much more comprehensive account of a victim of kidnapping’s pain and healing process.
“Truck… Wiggle out… Jump… Run… Somebody…”
Let’s talk about Brie Larson. In one of the strongest performances of the year so far, this rising star demonstrates her immense talent with a nuanced and mesmerising lead turn that’ll surely win you over in a heartbeat. Able to flit between tender moments of optimism and pure elation to heartbreaking scenes of torment and sorrow, she delivers a phenomenal lead turn that will surely have Academy voters talking come next February.
However, given her recent track record, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at all. Far more shocking is the onscreen presence of nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay. Bold and spirited with untainted innocence, the young boy produces a sublime display worthy of his own awards attention. He shares great chemistry with Larson, and later Joan Allen, who is not to be overshadowed, and gives a very moving performance in her own right.
Direction & Tone
Abrahamson is a notably artistic director, and there’s no denying that he and cinematographer Danny Cohen have crafted an beautiful and elegant piece of filmmaking here. Their subtle and measured approach helps bring the world of ‘Room’ to life – adding a touch of magic to some otherwise bleak and depressing imagery. However, his finest achievement is eliciting such an impressive performance from his young star.
- My flatmate hates Abrahamson’s last film: Frank. She calls it pretentious, boring, artsy fluff. Then again, she loved Pain & Gain so… each to their own?
- I managed to catch this at the London Film Festival – and somehow didn’t put two and two together that it was the European premiere…
- Safe to say, I was pretty shocked when Abrahamson, Donoghue and Larson all walked in for a Q&A. They were all lovely and had some fascinating things to say:
- Apparently, Donoghue always intended on adapting Room herself. For her, it was just a matter of finding the right director to fit her vision.
- According to Larson, she and Tremblay bonded over Lego. And Star Wars. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Is this woman for real?!
- Before you ask, her favourite Ninja Turtle is ‘Michelangelo’. Yup. She’s the best.
Equal parts haunting & inspirational, Room is a poignant, turbulent & intensely emotional tale about the love between a mother and her son.