ROOM Movie Review, based off of the National Best-selling novel from Emma Donaghue, is a heart-wrenching new film about a young boy and his mother finally escaping from the hands of their captor, allowing the boy to discover the outside world for the first time. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay as ‘Ma’ and ‘Jack’ respectively, each give performances of a lifetime (which is kind of saying a lot, given both of their incredibly young ages) in director Lenny Abrahamson’s first film after the independent smash, FRANK. Donaghue returns to pen the screenplay from her own novel, giving the film a very complete and fresh feel unlike many book adaptations we’ve become accustomed to. So, as you can see, Team Room is fairly stacked in regards to young talent.
The first thing I need to reiterate is how amazing Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are in this film. Larson has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role and is a strong contender for the coveted Best Actress Oscar this year. Both of which are very well deserved. She managed to portray a vulnerable, yet strong mother just trying to take care of her son in the worst possible conditions. Jacob gave the best performance from someone under the age of fifteen since Sean Astin in THE GOONIES. Actually he was far better than Sean Astin has ever been (that was harsh, I’m sorry). It’s rare to find a young actor knock such a difficult role out of the park, but some amount of credit has to be given to both Abrahamson’s direction as well as Larson’s counter performance. Regardless, I’ve never seen such wonder and enthusiasm in a performance, especially from a nine year old playing a five year old.
The emotional core of Room comes from Ma’s love and protection of Jack. It’s apparent from the first scene that he’s the only ray of light in her horrific life and that she’s willing to do anything to keep him happy. Unfortunately that means keeping him unaware of the reality beyond “Room”, leaving him unable to be hopeful for their futures. This idea is the main focus of the first act of the film. What is outside? Who can go there? What will happen when we leave Room? What does happen is that Jack learns about everything that was kept hidden from him for his first five years of existence. Some things are amazing and even magical, while others are cruel, scary, and make him miss his old home.
As you can expect, Room plays with your emotions a little bit. Or a lot. I’m not going to say that I left the theater with red, swollen eyes, but I definitely wasn’t too chipper about the experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful story that is beautifully directed and expertly acted, but it’s draining. Throughout the 2 hour run time, you’ll feel severe anxiety, crippling sadness, elated joy, and a smidge of anger. So basically it’s like watching INSIDE OUT!
All in all, Room deserves every award it has won or been nominated for. I’m still working my way through all of the Oscar nominated films this year, but I’ll honestly be surprised if Brie doesn’t snag the Best Actress statue. She and Tremblay had contagious chemistry together that I’ve been thinking about all weekend. Room may not be the best date movie, but if you get the chance to see it in a theater, I highly recommend the experience. After all, who doesn’t enjoy crying with a room full of strangers?
4 out of 5 Stars
ROOM – Dir. Lenny Abrahamson
Run Time: 118 minutes