Dir. Lenny Abrahamson, Script. Emma Donoghue
Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay
Plot: Trapped in a small room for seven years with a son who’s never been outside, Joy (Larson) hatches a daring plan for them both to escape.
I should start by saying that, over the last few years of me intensely watching movies, there are very few films that are quite like Room. It’s incredibly difficult to pen down the movie, directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Brie Larson, into any kind of genre. One moment its a tense thriller, the next a gripping emotional drama, the next a media dissection. For a film with just $6m to play with, its quite remarkable how many themes Room attempts to hit.
THIS SNAKE OF OLD EGG-SHELLS IS PROBABLY THE MOST ELABORATE THING IN THE ROOM
For Room to make all of them land is frankly incredible. In fact, this movie is frankly incredible. Room stands alone in the Best Picture race for its daring brilliance, its willingness to tackle dark and frightening themes, all from (in the absolutely correct decision) the perspective of a 5-year-old child named Jack who has, at the start of Room, never seen anything other than the shed in which he and his mother, Joy Newsome, have been trapped since before his conception.
Now, in the case of Jacob Tremblay, the young actor who is given the job of portraying Jack, I find it quite difficult to comment on child performances as, to me anyway, its a child being a child. But as a vessel by which us, the audience, can experience Room in all of its brilliance, Tremblay is superb. In terms of believability, Tremblay nails his character – he gives Jack wonder and fear, extraversion and introversion, loves and hates, in equal measure. For a nine-year-old, that’s really quite impressive.
9-YEAR-OLD JACOB TREMBLAY IS A STARK REMINDER THAT EVEN JUNIOR SCHOOL KIDS OUT-ACT JAI COURTNEY
But spectacular doesn’t even cover Brie Larson – let me tell you this (and I am really putting myself into the crossfire if this goes wrong), Brie Larson will win an Academy Award. She is a locked-in winner, a sure-fire bet. Larson is absolutely terrific, encapsulating the horror of her personal situation, her stress, her struggles to reintegrate with the world and to be a mother for her young son. In every scene, Larson is different but appealing none-the-less. Even as she tries to coerce and manipulate her own son in desperation, you’re with her every step of the way. I’ve raved about Brie since she stunned in Short Term 12, and here she finally fulfils her near-limitless potential. This performance is one fully deserving of Academy attention, and a gold statue should be on its way.
BRIE LARSON LOOKS UP AT A PICTURE OF JENNIFER LAWRENCE KNOWING SHE’S IN HOT PURSUIT
But why Room works is so much more than that – Lenny Abrahamson, coming off of cult favourite Frank back in 2014, is able to handle every varying element with composure. Abrahamson knows exactly where to place the focus at just the right time; his choice to bring us into the world at the pace of Tremblay is a masterstroke, as we can then share in a moment of amazement that we should never have been able to experience in Tremblay opening his eyes to a great blue sky. When Abrahamson attempts to shock, he only needs to imply – I greatly admire his direction for the fact that Room could have easily turned, considering its subject matter, a little exploitative. However, with equal thanks to Emma Donoghue (adapting her own source novel)’s screenplay, there’s not a hint of it.
Donoghue’s screenplay is remarkably clever – a writer of less quality would have probably focused too heavily on the abduction theme, but she instead focuses on her characters’ psychology, and how their worldview has changed thanks to their confines. I was extremely impressed by how cleverly her themes were embedded; these are themes taken from a wide array of genres, but Donoghue’s screenplay makes their inclusion feel totally natural. Danny Cohen’s cinematography is appropriate for the changing environments of Room, with fantastic lighting and production design complimenting the film tremendously.
JACOB TREMBLAY HAS BEEN LAUDED FOR HIS PERFORMANCE AS A BOY WITH NO CLUE OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD
Room is a damn good movie – its one of those movies that, upon gestation and further thought outside of the packed screening room I saw it in, has only got better in my head. Room is an expertly crafted, top-notch and truly daring work. Larson’s performance, in a just and fair world, should shoot her directly into superstardom (and with a lead role in Kong: Skull Island on the way, superstardom seems just around the corner), while Abrahamson’s remarkably intuitive direction answers any questions I had when the Academy put him up in favour of Ridley Scott. This is one of the best movies of this year, maybe even this decade – a picture that dares to show us our world in a whole new light.