Scott’s Review #373
Reviewed January 31, 2016
Room is a fantastic, compelling story of a woman’s battle in captivity, along with her five-year-old son in tow. The film also tells of the after-effects that occur from reclusive living as they both strive to adapt to their changing world.
Receiving a slew of Academy Award nominations, the film is more than a one-dimensional story of peril or rescue, but rather, a smartly woven tale that delves into the psychological issues involved with being confined in a room for years, giving the film a deeper meaning. Room is adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Emily Donoghue.
We meet twenty-four-year-old Joy and her five-year-old son Jack, who live in squalor in a shed made into one single room. They exist from food and supplies delivered by their captor “Old Nick”, who abducted Joy seven years prior.
He periodically rapes her and is Jack’s father, though there is no affection on either side. Joy has attempted escape before but has failed. She is determined to break free once and for all and allow her and Jack a normal life.
In the first half, we learn about Joy and Jack and we see how they exist and forge a life together. Until the present, Joy has told Jack that only they are real and the outside world and people on television are not.
They live in a fantasy world and Jack periodically treats objects (chair, toilet, bed) as real-life things, giving morning greetings to these objects- this is both cute and sad. His only channel to the outside world is a small skylight, which he endlessly gazes at.
I love how the film suddenly changes course at the halfway point and shifts focus to the aftereffects taking a dark, complex, psychological turn.
The first half takes place entirely in the “room”, and suddenly, a whole new world has blossomed. A monumental event changes the course of the film.
From this point, the film deals with the traumatic effects of being shut away for years. Joy suffers from depression. Jack sees a new world. We see how other characters deal with the turn of events. Joy’s parents- wonderfully played by Joan Allen and William H. Macy react in completely different ways.
How have their lives changed because of Joy’s abduction? Will they see Old Nick every time they lay eyes on Jack? How will Joy’s mother’s new boyfriend react?
There is a strong theme of coping throughout the film and how all of the characters cope with life events and attempt to resume a life of normalcy. There is such a unique humanistic feel to the film that makes it deeper than I would have expected. Sure, Brie Larson gives a dynamic performance, but the film offers reflection and thought.
The direction and camera-work are a marvel. We see a blurred view of what Jack sees in “the real world”. It is almost like the audience is reawakening to life and we see it through a child’s eyes- the sights, the sounds.
Jack has heretofore created an imaginary dog in his mind and the film introduces more than one real dog that plays a pivotal role in the film. We see Jack’s joy and terror at the new experiences.
Room encompasses a great deal of thought-provoking ideas and makes what might only have been a basic story and turns it into an intricate journey into human psychology through many different nuances and facets.
What a wonderful, dark experience this is.
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Lenny Abrahamson, Best Actress-Brie Larson (won), Best Adapted Screenplay
Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Female Lead-Brie Larson (won), Best First Screenplay (won), Best Editing