With it being the middle of film award season, the larger drama films are out in full force. While this year we get the usual mix of drama’s on serious topics, few have the emotional weight of Room. To be frank, this movie is pretty damn heavy and not a film I’d normally watch. In fact, the whole reason I saw it was because I was out with a friend at the time.
That being said, I don’t regret seeing Room, I’ve just not been able to stop thinking about it…
Room is told from the perspective of Jack (Jacob Termblay) a five year old boy who along with his mother (Brie Larson) are locked in a small woodshed or “Room” by a man they only know as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). After spending his whole life in the room and seeing his mother interacting and even sleep with their capture, Jack helps his mother plan an escape from their prison.
However, after the two are freed and Nick arrested the two still aren’t free from the damage that’s been done to them. After spending seven years in a room Jack’s mother takes longer to adapt to being in the real world.
So this film isn’t a comedy by any means. The film focuses on the isolation that both of our main characters have been dealing with. From the little lies that parents tell their children to even the sicknesses that normal children are vaccinated for Jack knows nothing about the outside world.
A lot of the film is told and shown from the perspective of Jack and the directors and cinematographer do this effectively through low perspective shots that don’t stay of faces or adjust to light properly. These shots add to the idea that Jack hasn’t been outside the room and something as simple as looking someone in the eye or staring at a blue sky are difficult if not impossible for him.
Additionally, Jack’s narration is used to help pass time in the film, however these moments of 5 year old gibberish are more annoying then insightful. But this add more to Jack as he recounts many of the tall tails that his mother has told him about the “space” around their room.
The second half of the film goes much deeper into the ideas of isolation and readjusting to the world. While both Jack and his mother are happy to be free from their room, his mom quickly finds out that things have changed without her. Her parents are divorced, her mother remarried a family friend, her father lives in a different city and the whole media machine is looking for her interview. These changes along with the full realization of her seven year imprisonment make her push not only her parents but son away. The son, she fought to keep alive and going.
This dive into the world of a victim is harsh, dark and far from pleasant. These moments also end up being some of the more interesting moments of the film. With stories of abdication and kidnappings still a reality in our news cycles, the idea of seeing what happens afterwards is what makes Room a deeper story. The mother isn’t shown as a saint for keeping her son alive that long, but as a person broken from the weight of the small room falling onto and being removed from her shoulders. Make no mistake, this characteristic is the best part of room.
In fact, the cast as a whole does a good job grappling with the complex emotions of the story. Rounding out the cast are William H. Macey and Joan Allen as the grandparents of Jack all give solid if not short performances.
All this praise aside, Room does feel quite long at times, clocking in just under two hours. While this could be due mostly to just how heavy the topic of abuse and kidnapping is, there were moments that could have been trimmed in the film’s first hour. However, it’s easy to see why the cuts weren’t made due to how much set-up is given to the everyday goings of the Room. The filmmakers wanted to show just how sad and mundane the everyday life was for them.
Despite how long the movie feels, Room is still a impressive film. It shows the harshness of a terrible situation and isn’t afraid to show just how destructive it can be. While it’s not a film I’d watch with my mother, Room is one of those award winning films that feels like less like hype and more like craftsmanship.
Room was produced by Element Pictures, No Trace Camping and Film4. The movie is distrubted by A24 (USA), Elevator Pictures (Canada) and Universal Pictures International (France).