Told through the eyes of five year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), Room is the story of how Joy (Brie Larson) and Jack escaped from the tiny room they have lived in for Jack’s entire life, after Jack learning not only was the only place he has ever known his entire life is bad, but also that all the things he sees on TV are in fact real, and there is an entire world beyond the four walls of room.
There has been a lot of talk about Room recently; not only is Emma Donoghue’s book loved around the world, but the director bringing the story to the big screen – Lenny Abrahamson- has had a fantastic run of films recently (What Richard Did, Frank) and Room continues this trend.
Brie Larson is fantastic as Joy; a woman who has been imprisoned in a man’s shed for seven years, during which time she gave birth to her son Jack. Larson captures the feel of a woman trying to be brave for the sake of the small child she spends all her days with, and is the only person he knows, but it is easy to see that her edges are more than a little frayed. Larson carries this on through the film, even after she and Jack escape from room, and although the film is told through the child’s perspective, and we never really get any motivations, all of Larson’s choices and moves are easy to understand and empathise with. Jacob Tremblay is an incredible find for his performance as young Jack; he is utterly confident in the confines of room, but once he steps into the rest of the world he shows the character to be the small and bewildered child he is; everything made sense in room, nothing make sense outside. The rest of the cast, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen and William H. Macy back the central duo up admirably.
Emma Donoghue adapted her best selling book for the big screen, and has cleverly created a film of two halves – inside and outside of room – that leaves he audience full of questions, but still satisfied with the story. There is the feeling, however, that the part of the film inside room is more coherent than what follows, but although the audience never truly knows the kidnappers motivations, there is enough here to be emotionally satisfying and moving. As well as this, with the escape from captivity happening relatively early on in the film, this leaves the film open to explore more emotion, and to be different than captivity films we have seen before.
Director Lenny Abrahamson seems to have stepped back from Room and allow the story to happen in front of the camera, so light is his touch as director. As mentioned, the story struggles slightly in the second half of the film, but Abrahamson directs a stellar performance from Tremblay, which holds the film together, even in its more shaky moments. As well as this, Abrahamson carefully constructs the film to be heartbreaking, frightening and uplifting, but to leave the audience with more questions than answers, in a way that means the questions almost don’t matter; the film is not about how Joy and Jack got into room, it’s more about what happens when they get out.
In all, Room is carried by standout performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. There are shaky moments from time to time, but Room is ultimately heartbreaking and uplifting; a new and unique take on a tale that could have been all too familiar.