Director : Lenny Abrahamson
Writer : Emma Donoghue
Stars : Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers
Release year : 2015 (imdb)
In a 10-by-10-foot room, there lived Ma and her little five year old Jack. Seven years earlier, a man known only as Old Nick, had abducted Ma, repeatedly raping her until she gave birth to Jack. For Ma, the room is a jail to escape from, but for Jack, it is the whole world. In fact, Ma has taught Jack that there exists nothing outside of Room, that plants are real but trees are not, that everything he sees on TV is make-believe, and so on. So much that he grew up thinking there exists only one bed, one sink, one bath, one closet (identifying them as Bed, Sink, Bath, Closet etc.).
One night, Ma gets severely abused by Old Nick after she tried protecting her son from him. She immediately afterwards devises an escape plan for Jack. What follows is a highly suspenseful sequence better seen that told.
The outcome is positive, and Jack then Ma reunite with Grandma, her new partner and Grandpa. And while Jack is quickly developing and adapting to the new outside world, Ma is having major difficulties patching her broken ego together.
The story can be divided in two major chapters, with each one having its own exposition, rising action and resolution. The first chapter deals with the struggle of Ma and Jack while incarcerated in Room. Told from Jack’s perspective, this part shows Ma struggling to raise Jack as a healthy and emotionally normal kid, trying to keep up with his increasing curiosity and conceal the ugly and harsh reality they live in. The second chapter tackles their emotional journey outside of Room. Here, while Jack is avidly and joyfully experiences the outside world, Ma falls prey to depression when actually realizing her youth was viciously and violently stolen from her, and tries to reconcile with her past and overcome her anxieties.
The direction is great and serves the purpose, without resorting to cheap or exploitative techniques, shifting style whenever the tone or rhythm demands it, perfectly capturing the mood, be it Jack’s innocence, Ma’s anxiety or the family’s helplessness. The framing, shot composition and screen direction are very well measured. All of which, of course, could not have been possible without the fantastic acting: Brie Larson delivers an award-worthy performance, carrying the story with dramatic prowess, never missing a note. Joan Allen was very convincing as Grandma. The ill-served William H. Macy never disappoints despite his brief screen-time as Grandpa. And the surprisingly very talented child actor Jacob Tremblay, who managed to infuse the movie with the right dose of hope and warmth.
With Room, Lenny Abrahamson cements his reputation as a skilled and insightful filmmaker. Keep an eye on him!