Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay, is five years old. His whole life has been lived in a ten by ten foot room and the only people he knows are his mother, Ma, played by Brie Larson and Old Nick, played by Sean Bridges, and he is forced to hide in a cupboard when Old Nick visits. Ma has done all she can to raise Jack who is a typical rambunctious five year old but there are obviously limits. They are prisoners of Old Nick, who kidnapped Ma seven years when when she was a girl and kept her as a sexual slave. Jack is their son.
Shortly after his fifth birthday, Ma begins preparing Jack for an escape. First she has to tell him about the outside world. They have a small TV but up until now Jack has been taught that the people he sees on it are not real. In fact Ma has told him that Room is the whole of existence. She thought they would never get out. But Jack turning five made her realize that she had to get them out of there so she changes her strategy.
The scene where they escape is more exciting than any set piece in any action film you’re going to see this year. You care so much about this kid and his mother that the tension becomes unbearable. It is amazing.
But the film has a second part that begins after the escape. Jack is perplexed and terrified by the outside world. There are people around him whom he is told are his family, but he doesn’t really understand what that means. At first he can’t talk to anyone especially males. When asked a direct question, he whispers the answer to Ma. His first question when he wakes up in a hospital room is are they on another planet.
Even though Jack goes through a lot, he is young and more adaptable to change. Ma is going through things as well. Now that her survival mode is dropping away, she is beginning to see all the things she lost when abducted. Her parents divorced and her mother, played by Joan Allen has remarried. All her friends have gone on with their lives. When she should have been graduating and picking a college, she was going through hell. Jack’s problems are nothing compared to hers.
Emma Donoghue did a good job on the screenplay, adapting her own novel. Room is more than just a thought experiment about a kid growing up in some kind of evil Skinner box. Jack is a real five year old, throwing a tantrum one second and hugging you the next. Jacob Tremblay plays this well by the way. Donoghue fills her story with real and complex characters.
The acting is universally fine. Brie Larson is terrific as Ma. She shows strength in the room, protecting and raising Jack and she believably breaks apart once Jack starts adapting to the outside world and he doesn’t need her to be as strong.
The director, Lenny Abrahamson gets good performances out of his cast. The look and editing of the film is fairly straight forward and well done.
Room is an exciting and moving film.


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November 2015
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