Room is a harrowing thriller, but not in the traditional sense of the word. It deals with a dark subject matter and the first half of the film can be quite disturbing. Yet director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) has adapted the best-selling novel with grace and grandeur. Here is a film so artistically unique and deviant, chock full of genuine emotion thanks to two outstanding performances, that isn't afraid to take risks and surprise at every turn.Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, Room introduces us to Ma and Jack, a mother and son held captive in a garden shed. As we learn more about their captivity, their world becomes clearer and clearer to us. They live by a routine, have names for every object in room, and Ma must be careful as her son grows older and more curious.The film is structured into two halves, and by now it's no spoiler that the second half deals with their readjustment into the outside world, and Jack's first time outside of room. The film is thematically complex, yet never overwhelming. At its core it's about motherhood, but Jack's unique upbringing complicates things.Director Lenny Abrahamson is no stranger to the strange, and with Room he's made a masterpiece of filmmaking. The entire idea of 'room,' the abstract concept of space, is ever-present in the production. In their bubble of room, Ma and Jack are restricted, as evident by Abrahamson's close angles and tight shots. The small space allows for high concept filmmaking, and when they get out of room, it only gets better, with a new color palette and experimental camera angles through Jack's eyes. The entire film is seen through the eyes of this child, and it's genius. What I loved about the book was its focus on Jack and how he adjusts to seeing this new world for the first time, and the movie never loses sight of that.I wrote about the pressure placed on child actors in my review for the incredible Beasts of No Nation, and Jacob Tremblay fits like a glove. Like Abraham Attah, he isn't a child actor, but an actor who just happens to be of a younger age. His wide eyes and expressive thoughts are very believable, and when he sees the outside world for the first time, it's a thing of beauty. Tremblay has brilliant chemistry with Brie Larson, and for one second I never doubted her devotion to him. As Ma faces frustrating upon leaving room, from her parents, doctors, and the media, she never forgets her son Jack, and always puts his wellbeing first. Larson taps into this character, one that undergoes a stunning transformation as she basically lost seven years of her life being locked up. Her performance will blow you away.The best actors are the ones able to transport you into their characters' own universes, no matter how isolated from society they happen to be. Larson, Tremblay, and Joan Allen all have a tremendous range of emotional ability and are able to sell you on their story not just for two hours, but for an entire lifetime. With Room, Abrahamson goes the extra mile with his direction, and director of photography Danny Cohen keeps all eyes on Jack. The film asks us to examine how we view the world and how this viewpoint is shaped by our nurtured upbringing. The result is a breathtaking experience brought to life, one you won't soon forget.
ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical--they are trapped--confined to a 10-by-10-foot space that Ma has euphemistically named Room. Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack's curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma's resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world.
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February 19, 2016 at 4:43 am