After yesterday’s slog through abject mediocrity, I’d figure I chase the review with my thoughts on a movie that is near the top of my favorite films of the year. What better way to cheer myself up about cinema than by depressing the fuck out of myself?
Room begins with Brie Larson as Ma taking care of her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), in a woodshed on his 5th birthday. Ma has been a captive of a creepy man simply known as “Old Nick” for 7 years inside that woodshed…oh we haven’t even talked about the worse of it. See Ma, to comfort Jack about his predicament, has been teaching her son as early as she could that the entire world is composed of them and Old Nick. Everything outside of “Room” is Outer Space. Everything Jack sees on television is not real. “Room” is the world.
Seeing Ma and Jack’s day-to-day is both disturbing and heartbreaking enough as you see them share food, a single bed, toilet, bathtub, and a tiny kitchen all in this small woodshed. But really rips out my chest and plays violin with my heartstrings is Jack’s narration. You primarily follow him as he forms thoughts and opinions on his situation, but most tragically of all, accepting everything his mother told him as the gospel truth. Thus leaving you in this twisted miasma of feelings as you grapple with his frightening viewpoint and his mother’s desire to comfort and protect Jack from Old Nick.
So you may be reasonably thinking this whole movie is about them in “Room” and escaping from this hell. And you’d be partially right…they escape halfway through the film. And just when you breathe a sigh of relief, that’s when the tragedy is lurking right behind the corner.
The second half of the film deals with Jack and Ma on the outside world. Both characters have to adjust to their new surroundings physically, mentally and emotionally. This is where Room truly shines as you see both characters struggle as they live with Ma’s mother and new husband. Ma’s father, played by William H. Macy, is another matter entirely I leave for you to experience in the movie.
Brie Larson is unfortunately getting overshadowed by Cate Blanchett’s performance in Carol; because while Blanchett did turn in a fine acting piece, it was Larson who was the better performer. Larson sells every scene she’s in and you can feel her hopelessness and frustrations as Ma. But most importantly, she truly feels like Jack’s mother. Reacting violently whenever Old Nick makes even a hint that he wants a relationship with the boy or turning on others who even dare to suggest the same. Jack is her son, he has no father according to her and you embrace her belief wholeheartedly.
Child actors can be hit or miss; but as Beasts of No Nation demonstrated, when a child actor is amazing then the rest of the film is elevated. Here Jacob Tremblay acts circles around the majority of actors nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor, and it’s a goddamn shame he wasn’t he even considered for an award. His narration bridges the film, but his reaction to life on the outside world is what truly turned the waterworks inside me on.
He acts with indignation when his mother tells him the “truth” claiming she is lying about the outside world at the very moment. But he headlines truly moving scenes as he adapts to the real world, slowly beginning to trust others besides his mother and slowly making peace with “Room.”
The script and direction are impeccable, all the more impressive that there are only three locations in this entire movie, one of which a confined space. And yet the camera makes this tiny room feel so large with clever perspective tricks so you too can experience how Jack sees his world. From the view of a child, “Room” is such a gigantic world that he literally cannot process how the rest of the “real world” truly feels like.
There’s no fat on this script. Nothing was useless, and every line served a perfect purpose to draw you into the lives of Ma and Jack. Especially when you see them interact with Ma’s mother and her new husband, you experience tenderness and pain on Ma’s part as she has to deal with the fact seven years of her life were unfairly robbed from her. But even in this horror, the film takes the time to show her hope through her son moving on from “Room.”
No film can ever be called perfect because mistakes are bound to happen. However, I simply cannot come up with any criticisms of this movie. This comes as close to perfection as it gets. This is in dead heat against Beasts of No Nation for my favorite film of 2015. The rating for Room is…
BETTER THAN SEX