When a film makes you have deep thoughts about reality, you know it’s probably a good’un. Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, Room (2015), introduces us to a life that none of us would like to be a part of; seven years confined to one room.
Brie Larson gives a breathtakingly believable performance as, Joy/Ma. Kidnapped as a teenager and confined to a shed, Joy had accepted her fate but never gave up hope. Enduring nightly visits from her abductor, Old Nick, eventually the inevitable happened and she gave birth to Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Joy decides that Jack should not have to suffer in the same reality as she, so Jack is only aware of the world inside their room. Everything outside of the room is fantasy.
Director, Lenny Abrahamson, uses a clever tool to give the movie some context from the book; Jack’s narration provides a psychological edge, as his boyish voice explains: “There’s room, then outer space, with all the TV planets, then heaven. Plant is real, but not trees. Spiders are real, and one time the mosquito that was sucking my blood!” The very concept of raising a child, while you are both being held captive in a room and, encouraging him believe that the room is the entire world, is a hard one to get your head around. The practicalities of it all and the trauma it will undoubtedly cause, unfortunately, don’t outweigh the trauma of telling an infant that they are in danger all the time – what a moral quandary to be faced with. Lie to your child or tell him the awful truth.
Much like Jack, we aren’t given long to get used to this concept. The film is not about being kidnapped, it is about escaping and what escaping can mean. It definitely isn’t a laugh-a-minute-movie, I would say it is an experience.
The raw acting skills of Joan Allen as, Grandma, give the film an emotional jolt. Ma and Jack are fairly un-relatable, but Grandma gives the narrative a sense of normalcy where everything else is alien for the characters and the audience. While, Room is to all accounts a miserable movie, it does leave you feeling oddly comforted. There is hope against the biggest of odds and ultimately it is our family that pull us through.