ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Drama Film Review 2015: "Room" (Written by Emma Donoghue, Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, w/ Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay)

Updated on November 19, 2015
Left: Jacob Tremblay as Jake, Right: Brie Larson as Joy
Left: Jacob Tremblay as Jake, Right: Brie Larson as Joy | Source
One of many deeply affecting scenes
One of many deeply affecting scenes | Source
5 stars for "Room" Film

Lenny Abrahamson, the Dublin, Ireland-born writer-director whose recent claim to fame was last year's highly eccentric and semi-biographical film "Frank" starring Michael Fassbender as a mystical musical prodigy and Maggie Gyllenhaal who plays his theremin and Korg-playing musical sidekick. Where that film was highly experimental in nature with a very loose narrative, incongruous shooting style and a rather huge overreach for Fassbender out of his comfort zone, "Room" knows what it wants and how to get there especially in its harrowing and highly relatable story. The fact that this movie handles a number of harsh, thematic threads so exceedingly well should be credited to Emma Donoghue who adapted her book as a screenplay and, perhaps her most of all, knows precisely what to incorporate from the source and what to omit. Like other author-screenwriters, namely "Gone Girl"-scribe Gillian Flynn and "Fight Club" writer Chuck Pahalnuk, Donoghue's instincts are spot-on here.

The story depicted here is rather grim, at first. Brie Larson plays young mother Joy, who, at 17 years old was befriended by a seedy stranger needing assistance with his dog only to find herself the victim of a kidnapping plot. Boarding her up in an extremely small shed in his backyard, that stranger "Old Nick" manipulates her subtly to the point where she is dependent on him for money, food, electricity, and, most astonishingly, sex. Joy grits her teeth and bares it and, at the two year mark of her unlawful and off-the-grid incarceration, has a kid by Old Nick named Jake who is as wide-eyed and bushy-tailed as kids in that situation are likely to be. He is a remarkable dreamer who created make-believe characters and alternate stories in order to cope with whats been done to him and his mom. Cute, but never cloying, newcomer Tremblay has an unmistakable, lived-in authenticity to his performance and his chemistry with Larson's Joy, who he adoringly refers to as "Ma" is the centerpiece of this picture. The flick is shot in a foreboding, washed-out blue filter that fills the frame with a sense of doom and gloom. Despite this, it retains its sense of hope that is never heavy-handed. Quiet, meditative moments are aplenty and there's really beauty in the silences.

The film definitely enlivens its pace in the second and third acts where Joy and Jake devise a daring escape plan that involves Jake playing dead (Joy's reasoning to Old Nick would be that when he killed the power out of retaliation for fighting with him, Jake got violently ill and died). Carefully orchestrated and not a moment too soon or too late, Joy rolls up her son in an enormous floor rug as she hassles Old Nick to take him to bury his body. As Jake's body bounces around in the back of Old Nick's dark red pickup truck, he sees glimmers of light and foliage/trees and birds chirping. It is in this moment that he realizes he's escaped and for a kid who has never had a chance to see the world outside his "Room" the film drives home this moment's significance very well. You feel the breathless and life-affirming rush that the outside world has on Jake and that it was everything Joy envisioned for him that it would be. As he makes a mad dash out of the truck, his world's collide as a passersby notices that something is a miss and calls the cops on Old Nick as Jake is pried from the scheming Old Nick's grasp and into the arms of a female police officer. It is a very jarring scene and shot using guerilla-style shaky-cam to put the viewer right in the action. Scenes like this are what compromise the backbone behind the efficacy of the film's message and translating Donoghue's profound material to insightful social commentary.

On the subject of Brie Larson, she is still considered the underdog wildcard when compared to Jennifer Lawrence who has seemingly, overnight, catapulted from proud indie star ("Winter's Bone" and "Silver Lining's Playbook") to franchise pack-leader ("Hunger Games" series and the prequel rebooted "X-Men" franchise). Larson has wisely stayed very far away from franchises even though her biggest budget film to date was the deliriously enjoyable comic book-inspired "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World". Her turn in 2013's "Short Term 12" which, like this film, succeeded or failed largely on the strength of her performance and fit for the role and material, literally brought tears to my eyes. I am definitely on Team Larson. I was nearly as choked up with this venture especially because of the minimalist, character-study approach the film took. It is as much a survival tale as it is a psychodrama that makes on-point assertions about the psychology of predators, kidnappers and law-breakers and the lengths they will go to take advantage of the innocent. Tremblay's Jake, who narrates this film as he does in the book, offers the audience a palatable look at the emotional stakes at hand and how someone must rise to the occasion against the insurmountable odds stacked against them.

This film has a number of influences - Jonathan Demme's "Man On Fire", Dennis Villeneuve's star-studded "Prisoners", and even "Every Mother's Worst Fear" whose common denominators all involve a child in the kidnapping plot. But, this one is significantly more stripped down as it isn't a major studio film with 75% of its running time having only one location. I can't say I can recommend this film to everyone. Even if you are an admirer of the above films, there is no flash to this picture but its substance is filled to the brim. It made me recall and yearn for parts of my childhood - some parts idyllic, mysterious but always filled with wonder and a pursuit of the next, great adventure.



Movie Poster for Brie Larson's breakout hit "Short Term 12"
Movie Poster for Brie Larson's breakout hit "Short Term 12" | Source
Brie Larson's very memorable turn as glam singer Envy Adams in Edgar Wright's manga-adapted "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
Brie Larson's very memorable turn as glam singer Envy Adams in Edgar Wright's manga-adapted "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)