<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H Macy, Sean Bridgers
Running Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
This kind of subject material could have been handled a whole lot differently in the hands of some Hollywood director and studio. But the Canadian-Irish thriller/drama has a more subtle and sombre tone that works deftly for the otherwise familiar plot.
Room has won and been nominated for several awards. It has that indie-film feel about it and the treatment of the subject matter gives it that something special.
At first you don’t know quite what’s going on in the Room: a mother (Brie Larson) and her daughter… oops, her son Jack live in a small space with no windows and only a skylight. They’re either very poor or very weird. But it turns out that they can’t get out of that room and have to make do with the provisions that Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) brings with him through the code key-locked door. And while Jack’s mom Joy ends up sleeping with Nick, Jack imagines and talks to himself as he is huddled up in the closet where he sleeps. In fact, the narrative of the film is from his point of view.
To Jack, the room is his world and beyond it there lies only space and imaginary things. A TV fuels that imagination but when his mother tells him of a world much larger and more exciting outside, he doesn’t want to believe her. But he must, or they won’t escape from the house they’ve been in for years.
Room isn’t only a drama about escaping the clutches of a sick man; it’s also about the psychological ramifications that this confinement has caused them. The distrust of the outside and the inability to cope with the changes that people close to them have undergone in their absence. It’s also about the dynamics between this mother and her son who sometimes feel being locked up in a room may have been better than being free in the real world.
The film has been shot sublimely in grey and has a sombre little soundtrack to haunt you. We’ve seen hostage dramas such as this before but Room manages to intrigue you with the emotions that play out that are far more menacing than the force that kept them hostage. At points you may find the film a bit slow and dull, which is only natural but there are points it keeps you on edge: like when little Jack must roll out of a carpet on the back of Nick’s pick up truck and call for help.
Performances by Brie Larson and little Jacob Tremblay are very good and the awards they have won so far are testament to that.
Room is deeper than your regular thrillers and more philosophical, which is what makes it such an interesting film to watch.