Release date: 15th January 2016/Watch the trailer here
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is based on the bestselling 2010 novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, who also did a wonderful job of penning the screenplay for this adaptation. It follows the story of Joy, or Ma, played by Brie Larson. She was kidnapped as a teenager, and has been trapped inside a single room for seven years. The story is told from the perspective of her five-year-old son, Jack, a little boy who has never known anything other than the four walls that have surrounded him for his entire life. Then, one day, Ma and Jack escape.
As you can imagine, Room is not an easy watch. It deals with some truly horrible, dark, unpleasant subject matter – the type of situation that really does happen in real life, but that none of us like to think about, because what if it happens to you? The first half of the film is intensely claustrophobic. Room is difficult to watch and there will be times where it will feel unbearable and you’ll wish that it wouldn’t go on and you’ll cover your eyes and grit your teeth, but the payoff is well, well worth it. I promise that you will leave the cinema saying wow, and thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would be okay if you put yourself through that all over again.
Perhaps the most challenging part of Room is trying to fathom how Jack must be feeling. We enter the cinema, knowing that there is a whole world outside waiting to be explored. We know that there are dogs, and cats, and trees. It’s impossible to imagine a life where we don’t know about these things. For Jack, though, it seems unfathomable that there is something outside of Room. He can’t comprehend that the people he sees on TV are real. It’s implausible that there is more than one Bed, more than one Table. That he has a grandmother and a grandfather.
If you think that it will get easier once Jack and Ma make their escape, then you’d be wrong. Now Jack has to deal with the reality of that big, wide, scary world. Sometimes, he will scream at Ma, because he doesn’t understand, and it will bring tears to your eyes. You will cry for Jack and you will cry for Ma. If you’re anything like me, you will spend the large majority of Room crying.
I realise that I must be making Room sound like a film that only a person with masochistic tendencies would ever want to watch, but I promise that for every challenging minute of Room, there are two more that will make you glad that you chose to watch this beautiful piece of cinema. Yes, it’s heartbreaking – of course it’s heartbreaking – but it’s also incredibly, impossibly uplifting. I left the cinema with a smile on my face.
If you’ve been paying attention to this year’s awards season, then you will be well aware that the thing about Room that is getting the most buzz is the acting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Brie Larson to create such a believable motherly bond with this young boy, and to make us truly believe that she has spent the last seven years locked away in a man’s garden shed. She shut herself away for a month in preparation for this role. She is remarkable, and she deserves every award that she wins. However, I think the real credit must go to Jacob Tremblay. He is nine. Nine-years-old, and he delivers a better performance than I’ve seen recently from actors who have been doing this for years. Some of this credit, therefore, must go to the director, Lenny Abrahamson, for directing a child so capably and getting a magnificent performance out of a young boy who couldn’t possibly comprehend what his character must have been through – yet he makes us believe that he does.
Please go and see Room. Bring tissues. Steel yourself for what is to come, for it is heart wrenching and it is beautiful in a way that no mere adjectives can explain.