A few years ago, author Emma Donaghue heard about an Austrian woman who was kept captive in a room for 24 years, giving birth several times to her captor’s babies. But it was not that sick story that intrigued her, rather the idea of a woman and child bonding and making their own universe in such a confined space. That’s the idea that gave birth to the 2010 best-selling book, Room, and now the movie of the same name which Donaghue has adapted to the screen for director Lenny Abrahamson.
It has been described as part fairy tale, part thriller, but overall it’s an emotional whirlwind to be sure. It also is the winner of the prestigious People’s Choice audience prize at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. As I say in my video review (click the link above), it may not sound like the easiest material to get through at first glance, but give it a go and I guarantee this could be the most rewarding two hours you will spend in a theater this year. It’s a knockout in every way. Brie Larson, in a performance sure to register this awards season, plays Ma, a young woman who was locked in a room by her captor when she was 17 and now is the mother of a five-year-old boy (Jacob Tremblay) named Jack, who narrates the story. She has created a special world for the child who has known only what they call “room” and nothing of the outside world in his five years on earth. This is their life until they boldly decide to try to escape. At that point you might think the film is reaching its conclusion but it is really only an act break. The second half explores what happens once they are back in society and living at Ma’s own parents home. Suddenly Ma, who has been the loving mother finds herself once again the daughter, too. Her mother, (played brilliantly by the great Joan Allen), and father (William H. Macy), have their own issues in dealing with all of this. By the end there isn’t a dry eye in the house for a film that has much to say about the survival, parental love and the endurance of the human spirit.
Larson, in a very complex and difficult role, is sublime and her relationship with Tremblay is touching indeed. Tremblay gives one of the great juvenile performances I have seen, but it isn’t fair to single him out as just a kid actor; this is something on the level of any actor of any age this year. Room is certainly not an easy story to make cinematic but Abrahamson has done a simply superb job of making a heartfelt, suspenseful and, most of all, emotionally affecting film version. This is a movie audiences need to discover. I certainly hope they do. Producers are Ed Guiney and David Gross. A24 Films is putting the film into limited release this Friday.
Do you plan to see Room? Let us know what you think.