Room is the story of Jack and his mother Joy, who the audience first sees inhabiting a small, dirty room. There is a bed, a cupboard, a bath, a small table, a television and that’s about it. Their hair is long and dank, they look pale and sickly and we don’t know how they got there, only that they can’t leave.
The film is harrowing, and perhaps much more so because it is told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack, who accepts his surroundings unblinkingly. Their world is called Room, outside of that is Space, and their supplies are brought by magic. Because of the film’s being narrated by Jack, there are some incredibly charming moments found amidst the horror, particularly in the earlier stages of the film as the audience is discovering Joy and Jack’s world.
Brie Larson is wonderful and certainly deserves her various nominations in this year’s awards season. Her character’s strength in keeping it together for her son is amazing to watch, and the quiet moments in which she allows herself to sink into the horrifying aspects of her life are heart breaking. But it’s Jacob Tremblay as Jack who carries the film: he’s captivating to watch and for someone so young manages to carry such a huge emotional weight onscreen.
Room is slightly frustrating at times because, despite the subject matter being so tough, the film tends towards the sentimental. This is understandable; if it was a totally unflinching look at what the characters are going through, the film might well have been unwatchable.
Still, there were little additions that felt like too much; at times the music was too swelling and too beautiful, or snow would begin to fall gently in a moment that was already sweet enough. There are real moments of joy and heart in Room, and if only these extra touches had been dialled back, the film would have had a lot more emotional resonance, rather than feeling trite. Nonetheless, Room packs an incredible emotional punch and is a very compelling film that is well worth a watch.
Image: Ian Smith; flickr.com