It’s a Small World: A review of Room


There will be spoilers

Both harrowing and life-affirming in equal measure, Room is astonishingly brilliant. Simple as that.

Brie Larson plays Joy “Ma” Newcombe, a woman abducted at 17, seven years ago, by a man only known as Old Nick, who has mothered a 5-year-old boy called Jack, whose world view is entirely that of the room.

We view the world through Jack, he knows not of the world outside Room, only that TV is magic and Space lies just outside the skylight. His mother has kept him safe from the knowledge of their terrible ordeal by keeping him protected from the truth. This isn’t a film that exploits your emotions, or depicts horrible scenes, it does have that stuff, but it’s never really about that. The man who imprisoned them and raped her every day is a monster, but by letting the Film be a relationship about mother and son, and not wallowing in its more horrific moments, it allows for a more beautiful story in the end.

Joy must tell Jack the truth, something he doesn’t initially believe so that they can plot an escape. By playing dead, Jack is rolled up in a rug, and taken by Old Nick out of the ‘shed’, and onto the back of his truck. Jack crawls out and makes his escape, but is nearly captured again, before Nick gives up, throwing the child to the floor and driving off. Jack tells the police what they need to know in order to save his mother and capture Old Nick.

But that’s just half of the story. The second half expertly captures the post-Room troubles of the pair, with the child discovering the world and learning to bond with other people, whilst the mother struggles with PTSD and even attempts suicide. We spend our time with Joys Mother and father, Joan Allen and William H. Macy respectively, as well as her Step Dad played by Tom McCamus.

Her Father Robert leaves quickly, unable to cope with looking his grandson in the eye knowing where he came from, but her Mother Nancy and Leo take to bonding with Jack. We see the world as Jack begins to grow, as he grows closer to his Grandmother and Leo, whilst Joy simply seeks more and more solitude from Jack. There are arguments, a tacky TV interview, and an attempted suicide, but in the end, the Film ends on a happy note as Joy starts to heal and Jack learns to let go of Room.

‘Room’ is stunningly effective at everything it does, its initial scenes in the bunker are shot as if the space is massive, and at the end, when they return to the bunker, at Jacks request, we see Room as Jack now see’s it, small. The direction and camerawork impeccably show the world through his perspective. Beautiful and huge, or small and claustrophobic, as Jack adjusts to a real life, we go on this epic journey with him.

Jacob Tremblay as Jack is a wonderful child actor, his performance his restrained and wondrous it breathes with each scene. Brie Larson as Joy deserves the Oscar and the Baftas and all the awards, because her performance is absolutely fantastic, really truly heartbreaking and deep.

The same can be said for Joan Allen who really finds the warmth in her role, as well as having to step up to take care of young Jack. The scene in which the parents reunite with Joy for the first time left me in floods of tears, the raw emotion as tangible as the seat I was sitting on. Tom McCamus was also nice as the step dad, and someone who knew how to behave around Jack, not talking down to him and treating him like the member of the family he is.

On more than one occasion, hell, more than ten, I found myself either crying or welling up, the emotion was so powerful, the story so breathtaking. By having the film spend time in both the bunker and in the home, it feels so much more fulfilling, you leave the cinema drained and uplifted in equal measure. There’s a moment where Jack sees a dog for the first time, and its beautiful poetry on screen, the emotion is so genuine and awe-inspiring, it’s not the only happy moment to leave you watery.

The cinematography is simple and gorgeous, and the score by Stephen Rennicks is captivating and gorgeous, especially with the fine ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’ as the song of Jacks first wondrous view of the world. I can’t recommend ‘Room’ enough, its writer Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the novel, has written a brilliant and emotional screenplay and Director Lenny Abrahamson has expertly brought it to life.

Just please go watch it. It’s truly superb.

Rating: A


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