Monday, December 28, 2015


**** out of ****

Not to be confused with the infamous disaster that is The Room, Room is a movie worth remembering for competent filmmaking, acting and emotional weight. Like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Tideland, this is a movie that approaches a morbid concept but lightens the atmosphere by favoring the perspective of a child who accepts a twisted reality as normal.

The screenplay by Emma Donoghue, based her award-winning novel, tells the story of a mother and five-year-old son living as prisoners in a small locked room with a mini-kitchen, bathtub, toilet, bed and tiny skylight above. The mother was kidnapped at age seventeen by a man who has spent the past seven years raping her, which resulted in her pregnancy with the child. The mother has raised and nurtured the child with a strong exercise and hygiene regiment to keep him healthy and instills in him a worldview that fits their situation: He believes the walls of “Room” to be the limits of the world.

At the movie’s nerve-racking halfway point, the two outsmart their captor and triumphantly achieve liberation. After being reunited with the mother’s family, the rest of the story is about the adjustment to freedom, under the unusual circumstances of attention from doctors and the media. The mother doesn’t know how to shake her afflictions and is intensely determined to reeducate her child who is trying to make sense of the vast real world he never knew. He often asks the haunting question: “Can we go back to Room?

The child’s joy, curiosity, and fear are wonderfully conveyed by Jacob Tremblay and the mother is excellently played by the very talented Brie Larson (Short Term 12), who deserves the recognition this film will give her. Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, and William H. Macy play the relieved –yet troubled family adapting to the changed daughter and the child who is the product – yet savior – from all her years of suffering. The casting of the captor is tastefully that of a less recognizable face, through Sean Bridgers.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank), this film is an achievement of realism portraying human strength under very unusual circumstances. Donoghue’s novel and screenplay are undeniably inspired by the Fritzl case in Austria - but thankfully not a retelling of that appalling piece of history, which was exceedingly more upsetting than this work of fiction. I still believe that inspired fiction makes better cinema than embellished non-fiction and avoiding the exploitation of real-world cases allows Room to effectively explore the boundlessness of a mother’s love in a very moving way. Highly recommended. 

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