It’s Friday and I’m only just posting my TBT review. This can only mean one thing. I’m massively behind schedule. I had an impromptu night with my sisters on Thursday and didn’t have the energy to write anything last night. So, I’m here on Friday night with midnight fast approaching trying to get myself to finish this damn review. And I’ll do it, goddamit, if it’s the last thing I do. Because this week’s film is a genuinely good film for a change. After watching Jacob Tremblay in Good Boys there was really only one film that I could watch. Okay, there were two films but I have weird memories of watching Superbad for the first time that I don’t need to think about right now. So, instead, I went back to Room. The film that saw Brie Larson become an Oscar winner before Captain Marvel saw her become hated by Marvel fanboys all over the world. It also introduced the world to the adorable Tremblay and put him in a tiny suit at the Oscars. More than deserving of a rewatch.
Room is the 2015 film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue. It was based on Donoghue’s novel of the same name. Now, I’ve not read the book at this point because, well you know how many books I’ve got to read. But, from what I know, the film is a pretty decent adaptation of the story. Ma and Jack are being held captive by Old Nick. Ma, or Joy, was kidnapped 7 years ago and locked in a shed in her captor’s garden. Jack is their son who was born 5 years earlier. Mother and son live alone in the shed, which they have renamed Room. Their only visitor is Old Nick on his nightly visits with Joy, at which point Jack is hiding in the wardrobe. In order to make life easier for Jack, Joy has told Jack that nothing exists outside Room. Everything else, including everything that Jack sees on television, is not real.
Not long after Jack’s 5th birthday, Ma comes up with a plan to get him out of Room. When he successfully escapes, the boy is able to alter the police and help them find their way to rescue Joy. The pair then find themselves back in the real world but, unfortunately, Jack doesn’t believe any of it actually exists. The pair struggle to find the right balance for the new lives and they are constantly hounded by news outlets wanting the scoop on their time in captivity. Can Joy readjust to her old life and will she be able to convince Jack that he can trust the things around him?
Room is one of those films that really stays with you after watching it. It’s such an original and powerful story. Something that is really pushed along by the two main performances. Brie Larson really is on top form here and Jacob Tremblay is a fantastic performer. Without the pair, this film might not have been as successful. That’s not because the film isn’t decent but because the scope of the novel is so great. It’s a difficult story to adapt and there are moments that don’t work. A storyline involving Joy’s continued breastfeeding of Jack is handled sloppily meaning a reference to it later in the film doesn’t really make sense. It’s not a massive thing but it feels so out-of-place.
On this viewing, the film seems kind of tame in how it deals with the psychological effect of being held captive for that long. Joy, as a character, could benefit from a bit more exploration. It seems that the emotional burden is placed on Jack, as the book is from his perspective, which means the true depths of Joy’s depression isn’t always feel as strong as it should. But, thanks to Brie Larson’s performance, the character still makes a lot of noise. It just feels that the film was a bit too scared to go too far into the hostage storyline in favour of spending more time in the outside world. Which is fine but it kind of feels like a cop-out now.
Still, Room is a great film and is lifted by the phenomenal performances. It’s a harrowing story that packs a punch. Minor quibbles aside, this film is full of golden moments that you will never forget. It’s an emotional and sad experience. It manages to brilliantly counter the claustrophobia of the opening scenes in Room with the latter half of the film. We see the difference between being in the wide world. A world with so much space and so many confusing, loud, and noisy things. It’s such an elegant and well-made film. It’s just a shame it couldn’t go a bit deeper.