I’ve waited far too long for this film, I can’t say that enough and I’m kicking myself for missing out on Room (2015) which for me was a far better film for director Lenny Abrahamson who last gave us the rather puzzling Frank (2014) which left me cold and bored by the eccentric band and annoying quirkiness that left me alienated, maybe I have to be a hipster to get it? I came away from Room feeling quite the opposite, having cried a few times, a moving and heart-felt film.
I wanted to discuss the film on at least one level that maybe pushed to one side, the reality that’s created by Jack (Jacob Tremblay) whose whole world is the room that he was born and has lived his 5 years short years. The four grimy walls are his world sharing them with his mother (Brie Larson) who has to bring him up alone after spending the last 7 years of her life, two years in, most probably raped and having a child as result of that act. Instead of falling into a state of depression, giving up, she has taken on parenthood at the same time as adulthood which had been thrust upon her with no other options.
For Jack his world’s constructed by his mother, which is goes to expand with his own imagination. It’s established early on that his world is the room, it’s all he knows, however that of the outside comes from the television, which before he was 5 and we meet him, the images are just images that are received by the set. Nothing is real beyond those boundaries and thought processes. Until his kidnapper and father Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) makes life unbearable for the mother who is now starting to use Jack as a way out. Not for a second do we believe or think that Jack’s being used to get out, she’s thinking on her feet and doing what she believes is best. On the final and successful escape our point of view is Jack’s it’s blurry and confused as if he has just been delivered into the world 5 years before.
At this point my heart is in my throat and it doesn’t travel back down for the rest of the film. You have committed to seeing mother and child being free. It’s touch and go for a few minutes as Jack begins to communicate with the outside world, all we want his for him to be reunited with his mother who could be a few blocks away by now. Thankfully we don’t have to wait long for both to be reunited and begin their lives on the outside, free of the room that held them prisoner, not that Jack really understood their situation.
We begin to breathe as a little easier as their future improves, Ma/Jo being reunited with her parents, who had since separated/divorced (it’s not made clear. not that it really matters) Her life and their lives have all changed, time has not stood still for anyone. Everyone as to adjust to what has happened. This is all found from Jack’s perspective as his world opens up, it’s becoming more adult, more real. It’s all too much for both of them at times, more so for Jo who has to face her family, a potential trial and even the media want to understand what happened to her, she’s not even had time to process it all herself. Leading to a twist that I didn’t see coming, once more the emotion’s increased whilst she’s off-screen. Jack has to process this event without her, thankfully his grandmother Nancy (Joan Allen) who is there throughout.
As much as it’s about Jack we can’t ignore Ma/Jo who has furthest to go in terms if adjusting to her new or old life in the outside world once more. Understanding what lead her to her imprisonment, pregnancy and later freedom. It’s a lot for anyone to process, Brie Larson gives a performance that is full of emotion, you forget that she’s an actress, she becomes a mother and young woman who wants to be free. It’s not an easy role either which makes her Oscar win all the more deserved. I was left blown away by the emotion that was on-screen, it will be one of those films that will never prepare you for what’s going to happen. If Prisoners (2013) which looks from the outside in, as a parent’s relentless and questionable methods lead him down a dark path, that too is emotive, but in the thriller genre, the drama in Room is carefully staged, with more a sense of reality. I’m glad we leave the room where the film could easily lose steam, becoming more of a short film instead of what we have. There’s a sense of hope that this mother and son can move on and build a life, it’s not painted with a heavy gloss, that everything will be alright, dealing with the psychological scares that incarceration from both of them, making for a more rounded film.