“Room” is a powerful indie drama with two heartbreakingly effective lead performances. Brie Larson (most recently seen as Amy Schumer’s sister in the comedy “Trainwreck”) is outstanding as Joy, and nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay is a breakout star as Joy’s five-year-old son Jack. Writer Emma Donaghue adapted her own popular novel for the screen and it’s one of the most gripping and emotional stories of the year.
At 17, Joy was approached by a man walking home from school. He then lured her into helping him find his lost dog. Sadly, there was no dog. The man took Joy and for the past seven years, has held her captive inside his 10ft. x 10ft. backyard shed. She cannot been able to escape because of a security door – only her abductor knows the four-digit code. And as often as she’s tried, no one has heard her screams from inside.
Young Jack has never experienced the outside world, only knowing what goes on inside the “Room”, as they’ve come to call their home, and what he sees on TV. Yet his Ma has created a “normal” life for him inside this prison. As in the book, Jack narrates the story, though only sporatically sharing his innocent and gut-wrenching thoughts and feelings about his life. Joy struggles every day to keep her son happy, though on the inside, understandably, she is a complete mess.
“Room” is divided into two, distinct parts. The first half is an intense and raw psychological look at this mother and son’s life inside the shed. The second deals with their world following a dramatic turn. This second act exposes even more layers as new characters (including Joy’s separated parents, played by Joan Allen and William H. Macy) are forced to deal head-on with the events surrounding this horrific situation.
Larson and Tremblay share the majority of screen time and their scenes together are touching, moving, shocking and at times simply take your breath away. Both deserve serious awards season consideration. And the supporting roles are perfectly cast and exectuted. This is a brave and important film that will leave a lasting impression. It defies the standard four walls of moviemaking by allowing a story so intimate and personal to be, at the same time, so open and universal. Credit director Lenny Abrahamson and cinematographer Danny Cohen for creating a film that, at the same time, makes you feel hopeless and hopeful, sad and uplifted, horrified and joyous.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Room” gets an A.
Running Time: 118 min.