by James H. Carter II
Being claustrophobic, I felt very intrigued to see “Room”, which is an intense drama about Joy, a woman that has been held captive in a garden shed and her 5 year old son Jack who was born in captivity. My first thought was how could someone cope having to live in such a confined space for so long? My next thought was how could someone raise a child in that environment and have to internalize all the hurt and misery they are feeling?
“Room” is mostly presented from the perspective of Jack, so at first you only get bits and pieces of the story which really builds suspense and tension as you try to figure out what exactly is the situation that they are in. Even though they are prisoners they seem to have basic necessities such as clothing, food, a bathtub and even a television. It is soon revealed that their captor “Old Nick” is bringing them daily supplies in order to keep Joy alive as his personal sex slave.
As the story unfolds Joy comes up with a brilliant plan for Jack to escape. This leads to, in my opinion, the most incredible scene in the entire film. Jack’s attempt to escape was one the most heart pounding and intense scenes I’ve watched in a film in years. Besides not knowing if he would escape, the scene was again presented in Jack’s perspective and you are witnessing him see the outside world for the very first time. Being reminded of childhood innocence makes the potential danger he is in even more real. The concept of telling a story where horrific things happen through the eyes of a child seems like an impossible task but screenwriter Emma Donoghue (and author of the novel the film was adapted from) pulls it off brilliantly. Not only is the story compelling it also has no plot holes. Every aspect of the film is explained which is a rare treat.
But all of this great writing and direction would be nothing without the amazing performances displayed in this film. At the time of filming Jacob Tremblay (Jack) was only seven years old and he delivers a performance of lifetime! It is astonishing that a young child could give such a believable performance dealing with such dark subject matter. Jacob’s performance is complimented beautifully by Brie Larson’s portrayal of Joy. She has to carry most the emotion weight of this film, displaying severe hurt and pain while also being loving and nurturing to Jack at the same time. Although he is not in the film for very long William H. Macy's haunting performance left quite an impression on me. He goes from being very loud and intense to silent and communicating with only the look on his face. I wish his character was explored more because I would have love to have seen what else we would have done with it.
My only criticism of the film is that the third act seemed a bit long. Apparently that part of the story was even longer in the book, so I can respect the fact that Emma Donoghue felt it was important to have the third act full of detail but I still wish it was a little shorter. Overall this was an excellent film with an incredible story, perfect direction and top notch performances! I hope this film gets the recognition it deserves because I think it will appeal to both indie film fans and the mainstream movie audience.