Room is based on Emma Donoghue’s international best-selling novel, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2010.
I’ve seen a lot of films, but I’ve rarely had an experience like the one I had with Room. The first half was distressing to sit through. It is completely harrowing and intense – with sweaty palms and racing heartbeat, at times I wished I was somewhere, anywhere else.
But its second half is so completely different. There was nowhere else I’d rather have been than right in the moment with this singular film. Room’s up-and-down effects are intended and gauged.
Room tells the story of a teenager Joy (Brie Larson) kidnapped and imprisoned for 7 years in a single tiny backyard garden shed and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Jack was born in there and knows no other world. Ma (at this stage we only know her as this) has raised him to think of their little shed – with its bed, toilet, stove, wardrobe, TV, and skylight – as the entire world, containing everything they’d ever want. Their captor, known by them as “Old Nick”, visits every Sunday, raping Ma and bringing them their weekly supplies and sometimes even a Sunday treat!
As the film opens, Jack has just turned 5 and quite proud of the fact. They make a birthday cake, minus any candles, much to Jack’s disappointment. Jack becomes increasingly curious about life, asking a lot of questions, and Ma decides to fill him in about the nature of the world outside Room as she considers a possible course of action. Ma tries to explain to Jack that, just like Alice wasn’t always in Wonderland, she wasn’t always in Room, and that there is another world out there that he doesn’t know of. Jack wants to know who the man who comes to visit every Sunday is. Jack wants to know why Ma is starting to tell him all these strange new things about Room, and about outer space, and how outer space isn’t really outer space but instead “the world,” a concept Jack can scarcely understand. Of course he doesn’t believe her, because their little Room has no windows other than a skylight.
Eventually, after many failed attempts, together Joy/Ma and Jack concoct a scheme to fool “Old Nick” and to attempt an escape.
The second part of Room is about how they recover and reintegrate into her family and a society that doesn’t know how to react to their whole ordeal. The second half is more sedate but no less emotionally involving. This is a truly beautiful work regarding the inextricable bond between mother and child
After they escape Jack becomes overwhelmed by how much more there is to life, while an exhausted Joy quickly checks out from being the perfect mother, or even a daughter to her own folks (Joan Allen and William H. Macy) who take them in after they escape.
I relished the way director (Lenny Abrahamson) made us “feel” the minuteness of the room they existed in. We felt the claustrophobic confines and the smallness of it, and the entire story being narrated from the child’s point of view made it more comfortable.
This is an absolute must-see.
ROK’S RATINGS: 5 glasses bubbly