Being trapped in Room for nearly two hours was a claustrophobic delight for this moviegoer, let me tell ya. It was the first drama in a long time that I physically felt the tension and gravitas displayed on screen. I was impressed with the layered performances and “…surprisingly credible survival tale” (as Eric Kohn of Indiewire put it).
Theatrical trailer here.
I had no idea of this movie’s existence until just a few months ago when the Awards season kicked up, and this low budget Canadian-Irish drama started to shine to critics and audiences both. After the 88th Oscars, and Brie Larson’s unquestionable win of Best Actress, I ran to the store and picked it off the shelf. I wanted to know what the big hype around the picture was all about–especially the performances of the two leads. My first words after the credits started to roll: “Whoa.” I fell into a deeper side of the pool than I had planned on.
Distributed by A24, the feature is directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Garage and Frank), written by Emma Donoghue (based on her 2010 novel), and starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridges, and William H. Macy. The story involves “a kidnapped mother and son, who make a daring escape, and experience an dramatic homecoming provoking a look into the power of imagination and the unstoppable force of a mother’s love” (IMDB.com). It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2015, and was released to theaters the next month. Thus far, it has grossed almost $28 million dollars against a $13 million production budget. (Rated R for language)(Running Time: 118 minutes)
The story is incredible primal: a mother and son have been held prisoner in a single room for seven years, forcing the boy to grow up believing the world did not grow outside of their space. It offers a compelling, psychological themes against the simple grounds of a loving relationship between a young mother and her little boy. The duo act brilliantly together. They are the movie.
The picture’s cinematography and editing, I believe, is the only con of the entire film. It feels a bit formulaic; the typical indie-film feel. Although I believe it was designed to keep from distracting from the story and the performances, at times I felt it could have been delivered better. But that’s my personal opinion, and regardless, it does not take away from the movie as a whole.
The performances by Larson and Tremblay are exquisite. I will use the phrase “tour de force” for Brie’s bravery. Just a few years ago, she had a supporting role in 21 Jump Street (2012). Last summer she had an equally supporting comedic role in Trainwreck (2015). Then she jumped ahead with this mammoth. I’m just as impressed with the leap as with the part she crafted. Followers of this blog will understand I refer to actors and actresses who achieve “The Look”…and Brie just about has it in this movie when she’s running up to the squad car midway through. But the movie would not be nearly as believable without the impressive part lived by the boy, Jacob Tremblay. They successfully balance each other out throughout the course of the movie, and it almost makes me hope they will work together somehow, somewhere in the future. You can see the bond being made during the length of the film.
Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Overall, it’s a decent shot at a tall target, but real credit is due the lead actors, with Larson expanding beyond the already considerable range she’s previously shown with an exceedingly dimensional performance in a role that calls for running the gamut, and Tremblay always convincing without ever becoming cloying.”
If I just rated the performance, I would put this way high on the list. But as a film overall, I’ll balance the scale to a B. Great flick. Although, it is very heavy and not for the faint of heart, do to the intense subject matter. If you can get through the first forty-five minutes, you’re golden. Cheers.