Room (2015)

Review #1,254

Director:  Lenny Abrahamson
Cast:  Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy
Plot:  After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

Genre:  Drama
Awards:  Won 1 Oscar - Best Leading Actress.  Nom. for 3 Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay.  Won 1 Golden Globe - Best Leading Actress (Drama).  Nom. for 2 Golden Globes - Best Picture (Drama), Best Screenplay.  Won People's Choice Award (Toronto).
Runtime:  118min
Rating:  PG13 for language.
International Sales:  FilmNation Entertainment
Singapore Distributor:  Shaw Organisation

"You're gonna love it."
"The world."

With a performance that is sure to bring her the Academy Award for Best Leading Actress (barring a not-so-upsetting upset by Charlotte Rampling of 45 Years (2015)), the emerging Brie Larson, whose breakthrough came in the 2013 drama Short Term 12, gives another terrific acting display as Ma, the mother of a 5-year old boy named Jack (Jacob Tremblay). 

For much of the first hour, Jack and his Ma are stuck in a small room, and as we will learn, they have been forcibly kept there for five and seven years respectively.  The disturbing nature of their predicament seeps into the narrative, always threatening to bring dark clouds in what is a fairly inspiring picture about self-discovery and the unconditional love that both mother and son enjoy. 

It is this balance of inspiration and trauma that makes Room interesting to watch.  Written by Emma Donoghue based on her novel of the same name, Room impresses with its conceptual originality, creatively telling an affecting story that could have manifested itself as one of those typical crime movies about a perverse man keeping a woman locked away in his basement or attic (it is, thankfully, not that kind of picture). 

However, it must be said that the use of music can be rather manipulative, which in my opinion is one of the setbacks of the viewing experience.  The use of loud, heavy strings tend to overdramatize when a quieter and more contemplative approach might fare better in some of the scenes.  Really, the worst part comes right at the end in the closing scene.

At times suspenseful, especially in its first act, and dramatic, there’s still an underlying sweetness to the film, a sort of saccharine mother-son effect that provides much calm and levity to the proceedings.  The director Lenny Abrahamson also largely avoids the more serious psychological implications that would affect the two victimized characters. 

Some will find Room to be refreshing, even ingenious, while others (like myself) will find it periodically fascinating only to a point.  There’s a feeling that the film can’t quite push itself to be truly astonishing.  It didn’t take my breath away, but this is the kind of movie that more mainstream moviegoers should make it a point to see.  It would liberate them.

Verdict:  Dramatic, saccharine and suspenseful, this well-acted and periodically fascinating film soars to a high point, but can't quite push itself to be truly astonishing.


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