Friday, October 23, 2015

Room


There are men who kidnap and imprison women in order to keep them as their own personal sex slaves, often for years. This is a real thing that happens, and that fact will never cease to sicken me and completely freak me out. So, starting with a premise like that means Room is a tough film to experience. Some might wonder if it's worth it. I think it is, primarily for the extraordinary performances from Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as her five-year-old son, Jack.

Jack narrates much of the story, so we see things through his young, literally sheltered eyes. Room, as Jack calls their prison, is all he knows, and as such, it's much less of a prison to him as it is to Ma. The objects around him are treated like friends, and named: Lamp; Wardrobe; Meltedy Spoon. Excitement can be had in the changing shadows on the wall. A child's imagination can blossom even in the most constricting of settings.

But the concept of a world "outside" is difficult for Jack to comprehend. A skylight is their only view outside of Room, and a patch of sky is all they can see; a blurry TV serves as the bigger window. Ma does her best to teach Jack about the world and eventually comes up with a plan to escape. What results is a scene filled with as much tension and suspense as you'll find in any action film.

Young Jacob Tremblay is really remarkable to watch. There is not a single moment of his performance that feels phony or amateur. (Get this kid a tiny Oscar, stat!) Ma is a more challenging role, as she's (deservedly) bitter and depressed, and can easily come off as unlikable. But Brie Larson does a good job of making her heartbreaking, tough, and admirable. Ma is a hero, and the best mother she could possibly be. It's just a shame no one in the movie ever really tells her that.

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