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Room - To Form a Connection with The Audience
ROOM is paced and acted like a thriller initially, and as that it is one of the best films of the year. Add in all of the extra factors at play and the film is one of the most emotional sits I’ve had in a movie theater in a while. It is an achievement by director Lenny Abrahamson and its two leads, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. I spent half of ROOM bawling my eyes out at an intensity that I didn’t think I could manage going in.
Jack (Tremblay) is born to Bree Newsome (Larson) in a place he knows as ‘Room.’ Their food and various other necessities come from a man known as “Old Nick.” One day Newsome tells Jack that Nick had kidnapped her and trapped her in ‘Room’, and now that he’s older they have an opportunity to break out of there. The film deals with the trauma Bree suffers from her time there, as well as the strength of bonds that tie humans together.
The key to ROOM’s success is author Emma Donoghue’s humanistic script. She embraces the irrational logic of its child character and the inner strength of its female lead. If you’ve seen the trailer then odds are you know what the first half of the film is like. The themes sound clichéd, but the way Donoghue’s script is written is no less than natural. This is a real, emotional; raw sit.
I adore Brie Larson’s performance in this, she displays a maternal wisdom far beyond her years. She displays her flaws in full form, and attains a beauty few actresses can manage. Larson talks about going through a process of death and rebirth for the film; that is what I think the film is about as a whole. Newsome breaking free of her seven year prison represents a death, and the film follows her as she seeks her rebirth. This is a brutal film to watch on a psychological level, but I think thematically that part of its appeal is that it can connect with people on that level.
That’s what makes ROOM such a terrific picture, is that connection it establishes with its audience. I was bawling my eyes out in the theater, but I could hear sniffling behind me, which made me certain I was not alone. Director Lenny Abrahamson handles the material with a certain emotional honesty so as to make this material land. He handles the first half of the film so it is claustrophobic and nerve-racking, almost directed like a thriller.
Something that impressed me was how well Emma Donoghue’s script understood children. Jacob Tremblay is good in the film, he’s a rare child actor that shows promise almost on the outset, but without Donoghue’s script he wouldn’t have worked. The script gives Jack a certain irrational logic, not resorting to cutesy tropes, but rather allowing him to behave like a child. His narration shouldn’t work, but there is a way about the writing and Tremblay’s performance where some of those moments will hit you like a brick to the face.
One aspect that is great but has been ignored are the performances from William H. Macy and Joan Allen as the grandparents. Just these little moments they have, where they want to be supportive, but whether its Macy unable to bear the fact that his grandson was born from a rapist, or Allen trying to repair her relationship with her PTSD-addled daughter and establish one with her grandson, they are kept at arm’s length for a lot of the film. Despite this, Allen is present, and her performance helps the themes of the film to completely strike home.
ROOM is a masterstroke about the bonds humans can form under great duress. It has some of the best acting of 2015, and stands out as one of the most visceral responses I’ve had to a film in some time. It is a must see. It is one of the best films of the year.