You Should Be Watching… Room (2015)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Screenplay: Emma Donoghue

Main Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Marcy, Sean Bridges

Inspired by the horrifying true story of Josef Fritzl’s 24 year imprisonment of his daughter, Elisabeth, and her son Felix.

 

The world that we live in is vast and boundless, to the point that we go through life knowing that we will probably never be able to take in most of its wonders first-hand. Now I ask you to suspend reality for a moment and imagine being able to see all of the world at once… to be able to stand dead in the centre and spin around in a circle with your arms outstretched and see all four corners of the globe.

In “Room” we are able to do this through the eyes of Jack. We don’t have to imagine, because this is his reality.

I know that I might have pitched this as some kind of ‘escapist fairy tale’ but it is anything but. Room is a dark story of domestic abuse and imprisonment, but also a story of a mother’s bold efforts to preserve her son’s innocence, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

 

THE PLOT

ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical–they are trapped in a 10-by-10-foot shed that Ma has euphemistically named Room. They share a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and rudimentary kitchen; the only window is a skylight.

 

They are captives of a man they call Old Nick, Jack’s biological father, who abducted Joy seven years ago, and routinely rapes her while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe. She tries to stay optimistic for her son, but is sometimes overcome with depression and is suffering from malnutrition.

 

Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. (IMBD) (Times of India)

 

 

The most powerful scene in the whole film is when Ma tries tell Jack about how she ended up in “room”, desperately trying to convince him that there is a world outside of those four walls and he doesn’t believe her; she’s done such a good job of feeding into his blissful ignorance that he can’t comprehend anything else. What began as a normal conversation quickly turns into a heated argument when Jack defiantly says “I want a different story!” and Ma finally snaps and says “This is the story you get!”

I think that line is so potent because on a human level we can all relate to feeling like we are trapped in a world that isn’t of our own making.

 

Joy and Jack going through their everyday routines in “Room”

The casting of Brie Larson as “Joy” (or “Ma”) and Jacob Tremblay as “Jack” couldn’t be more perfect. I’m not the type to get all up in my feelings (with anyone around), but the mother-and-son bond between them is so pure and genuine that it could even melt the Tin-man’s heart (I’m not crying you are).

The emotional depth of Brie Larson’s performance sees her seamlessly transition between playing the hero, victim, mother and daughter (and sometimes all of them at once), it’s very easy to see why she won an Oscar for this role. Whilst the level of comfortability that Jacob Tremblay has playing such a central role at the age of 8 is mesmerising, and reminds me of my other two favourite performances by child actors – Mara Wilson in “Matilda” and McKauley Caulkin in “Home Alone”, in case you were wondering.

 

Outside of the excellent casting and writing, a lot of credit should be given to the cinematographer, Danny Cohen, for going to such great lengths to make the room look as big to us as it does to Jack.

The juxtapositions are what make this film; ‘Jack’s perspective and Ma’s perspective’, ‘physical freedom and mental imprisonment’ and so on and so on. This is essentially two films in one, the one inside of the room and the one outside of the room, each with their own challenges and obstacles.

There are so many messages that you can take away with from this film, what I took away from it is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel (or in this case, through the window in the ceiling) and as adults it is our job to protect the innocence of children for as long as we can before the world takes it away from them.

As usual comments are encouraged!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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