Room wants to teach us so much in such a small space. It asks us to hold a little tighter to what matters, but pleads that we might reach a little further. It reminds us that time moves slowest when it is wasted, but demands we not fear its passage, should we sacrifice our ambition. Lenny Abrahamson’s follow-up to surrealist romp Frank is a conversely dark and grounded affair that channels the success of recent thrillers like Prisoners and Gone Girl to deliver a nuanced and personally affecting story that subverts and improves upon the formula.
"Lenny Abrahamson’s follow-up to surrealist romp Frank is a conversely dark and grounded affair"
Adapted from Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, Room is the story of Joy and Jack Newsome (Brie Larson & Jacob Tremblay). When Joy was a teenager she was kidnapped by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), and soon after gave birth to her son, Jack. We join Joy seven years into her imprisonment, on Jack’s fifth birthday. When the two manage to escape, they realise the world outside of ‘room’ is much more of a challenge than they had anticipated.
"The casting of a relatively low-profile actor as Old Nick is testament to Abrahamson’s commitment on all fronts to telling a more important story than just one of a sadistic kidnapper and his captives"
Brie Larson’s turn as jaded mother Joy is superb, but it is Jacob Tremblay who carries this film as Jack. His performance wrenches you open and leaves you raw to the gravity of the story. Abrahamson harnesses his character perfectly by steering clear of excessive melodrama and instead uses your vulnerability to make affecting statements on family, motherhood and opportunity. While much could have been made of the presumably tempting thriller aspects ripe for the picking, the focus remains firmly on Larson and Tremblay, and Room benefits greatly from side-stepping common thriller tropes. The casting of a relatively low-profile actor as Old Nick is testament to Abrahamson’s commitment on all fronts to telling a more important story than just one of a sadistic kidnapper and his captives.
If Room doesn’t give you an appetite for life, then I’m not quite sure what will. Excellent work across the board gives the film a shot at some major awards this year.