There’s one thing we know about the nature of humanity: it is capable of anything. Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, is a suspenseful drama that takes us to a room where a mother, simply referred to as Ma, and her son, Jack, are trapped in a room for several years to the point where “hope” is just a four letter word in a dictionary. Ma and Jack are held captive by a disturbing man simply named “Old Nick,” as they plan their escape. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay star in this trying film that shows the audience the capabilities of the human spirit.
Jack looks up towards the ceiling at the skylight of the stuffy, cramped room and witnesses a piece of the sky, as if it’s merely a puzzle piece to a world he’ll never discover past his imagination. This is where director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue place us. To Ma, the room is cold and faded, like a coffin waiting for them to die inside. From Jack’s imaginative perspective, it seems cozy at times, and even endless; although, the room weighs down on him too. The intimate shots of both actors allow this film to place you in this horrific life, and takes you to dark places; however, it also shows you there’s sparks of light in even the darkest of places.
Donoghue’s script, which is a rendering of a novel of the same name, feels naturally emotional. There’s nothing forced in the dialogue and the events that take place, as if it could’ve been something that you’ve seen in a newspaper about a week ago. This films also utilizes voice-over, from the perspective of Jack, in an absorbing way, as it gives us a child’s point of view.
The script is also interesting in that it takes us past what’s expected, allowing us to see the road back to a “normal life.” Through the characters interactions, we see what is lost and what is gained from being a survivor. The script touches upon moral choices and self-sacrifice enough to allow you to wrap your mind around the topics, but the film allows you to make your own decisions.
Brie Larson tackles a complex character in Ma, a young lady that was tricked in her teen years because of her initial capacity to lend a helping hand to anyone. Being naive and kind ruins several years of her life, as she’s imprisoned in a room by a despicable excuse for a “man,” named Nick, who provides her with just enough to keep her and her son alive. Larson delivers a tremendous performance that is raw and heartbreaking, yet there’s always a sense of strength inside her that’s fueled by Jack. The young Jacob Tremblay gives a fantastic performance as Ma’s son, Jack, a 5-year old boy that knows only what he’s been taught in the room. Jack is a fish in a bowl that substitutes the entire sea. It’s painful to see what he has to go through, and it’s beautiful to see his imagination soar and his heart beat for his mother. The mother and son relationship depicted is so genuine that every obstacle they overcome is heartwarming, even if they’re just slowly making it out of hell.
The structure of this film is also effective, as it contrasts a claustrophobic atmosphere with one that seems wide open and endless. Although the characters get out of the room physically, it’s an even longer road to get out of the room in their minds, and that journey is explored without a filter.
Room is an emotionally draining movie that will dig into your mind long after the film is over. It’s headed by two magnificent performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay that deserve to be recognized. This film is important, in that it shows us what determination looks like in the face of ideal despair. Connecting with one another allows us to survive the plentiful horrors of the vast world, as depicted through the bond of mother and son in Room. The message could be as simple as appreciating the good that life gives, and it is, but it tells us that in a way that we’ll remember; with a realistic version of “happily ever after.”