I stumbled across Lenny Abrahamson’s Room on Amazon Prime on a Sunday night just as I started to give up on the idea of ever finding a film. My girlfriend heard it was a good film so we decided to give it a go and fortunately we weren’t disappointed. Based upon Emma Donoghue’s original novel, Room follows the story of a mother and son who have been locked inside a shed for many years. The mother, known as ‘Ma’ (Brie Larson), was kidnapped by a man she and her school friends knew as ‘Old Nick’. Ma is subjected to seven years in a tiny room where her captor has imprisoned her and regularly rapes her. When her son is born two years into her confinement, she finds a slight renewed happiness for life as she fiercely loves and raises him.
However, whilst Ma is well aware of her terrible position, her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), only knows Room. It is his world and he just knows what is inside it, regularly saying good night to Lamp, Skylight, Chair 1 and the few other household objects in his little universe. However, all of this changes when Ma tells him about the outside world shortly after his fifth birthday; it is this revelation that causes Ma to hatch a daring escape plan with Jack playing a pivotal role. The plan just about succeeds and the pair escape back into the real world.
However, little can prepare the mother and son for what the real world holds. Jack has never seen outside Room, let alone talked to another person. Needless to say, there is a lot to learn, absorb and understand in the chaos that is the outside world. Moreover, Ma has just been reintroduced to a family that has been torn apart from her seven year disappearance. Picking up her life from where she was taken from it is easier said than done and unimaginable mental turmoil sets in as she begins this process. The rest of the film follows the struggles of Jack and Ma as they search for a new equilibrium in their life.
This is a brilliant film that left me in tears twice, something that seldom happens during films. Larson and Tremblay provide sincere, accomplished performances and Stephen Rennicks’ musical score deftly eases a variety of emotions out of the audience. A great strength of the film for me is that it could well be two separate films. The first, a heroic escape of mother and son, and the second, a drama about a family adjusting to the world after a tragedy. Alas, with stories such as these, it is usually the first film that is shot, focusing on the thrill and suspense. Personally, I think it is the second of these two films that is the best! Various sensitive subjects are broached with great care and realistic outcomes arise. Ma’s step-father, Leo, (Tom McCamus) personifies Room’s sensitive approach, earning him the title of my favourite character. He is a gentle, friendly man who deals with a hard situation in a charming combination of care and tact.
I implore you to watch Abrahamson’s film. Room doesn’t boast such great reviews elsewhere for no reason. Don’t be afraid to cry and allow the film to lull you through the ups and downs of a family tragedy.