Directed by | Lenny Abrahamson
Produced by | Ed Guiney, David Gross
Screenplay by | Emma Donoghue
Starring | Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy
Run Time | 118 minutes
Certificate | 15
Plot | Kidnapped at 17 and forced to live in a cramped room with rudimentary facilities, 24-year-old Joy (Larson) resolves to help her 5-year old so Jack (Tremblay) escape.
Review | Based on Emma Donoghue’s award winning novel of the same name, Room has rightfully received plaudits from critics and the public alike.
Joy and her son Jack are trapped in the confines of her psychotic kidnapper (Sean Bridgers). Their world consists of the limited utensils and utilities: toilet, washbasin, semi-functioning television, rudimentary cooker, a small table, a couple of chairs and a bed. Joy has spent her time enduring nightly abuse from her captor, her attention focussed solely on keeping Jack (a product of her abuse) as safe as possible. As his fifth birthday approaches, Jack is as inquisitive as ever and Joy resolves to break him out of the squalid captivity.
For a film that spends much of its time in little more than a ten foot by ten foot box, director Lenny Abrahamson (Garage, Frank) does an excellent job in both the directing of the shots (despite such a length of time spent in a confined space, never does Room feel repetitive or boring) and of capturing a couple of top-drawer performances from Larsen and Tremblay.
Larson’s performance is a powerful yet nuanced one. She manages to convey her utter disgust for captor and situation, while also hiding the full extent of the truth from her son. Opposite her, Tremblay gives one of the best child performances for a long time. He is entirely believable in his portrayal of young Jack, an inquisitive, optimistic youth with an expansive imagination.
Along with Larsen and Tremblay, Abrahamson deserves a heap of credit for getting just the right balance between the bleak despair of the situation and the glimmers of hope sprinkled through the early narrative.
The only thing that potentially holds Room back from being an absolute top shelf classic is probably the viewer’s feelings on the third act. We will not discuss it much here, for fear of spoiling the end, but the denouement is, in our opinion a well handled one. There’s a cameo from William H. Macy that, while he plays it well, the character’s actions don’t quite sit right. On the plus side, the very final scene is perfect.
The Verdict | A brilliant, moving, bleak-and-yet-uplifting drama, punctuated by a couple of great performances and top direction. One of the better films of the year.