moon child // Film Review: Room
Published by Huffington Post.
Based on Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed novel of the same name, Room focalises on Jack, a five-year-old boy held captive with his mother Joy Newsome in a squalid shed at the bottom of Old Nick’s garden – a narrative in-part inspired by five-year-old Felix who was one of the children fathered by Josef Fritzl and held captive in a basement with his mother, Fritzl’s older daughter, Elisabeth.
While Room has the makings of a terrifyingly real horror story or psychological thriller, director Lenny Abrahamson refuses to diminish or cheapen Donoghue’s life-affirming story with gimmicks or horror-movie-frights, and instead creates a heart-breaking, and paradoxically heart-warming, masterpiece of cinema which tells a story of human spirit, hope and the undying and incomparable love between a mother and her child.
The opening scene of Room shows us the first brief peeps of the film’s beautiful cinematography with micro close-ups of the wall, sink, skylight, and other glimpses of ‘Room’. The mother and son’s enclosure, which is in fact a shed with a code-secured door, has a tiny kitchen, a bath, a double-bed, a wardrobe, a small table, and a TV.
These fixtures form Jack’s alternative reality where he believes there is ‘Room’, then outer space, then the TV planets, and then heaven – where the aliens shot him down from, and into ‘Room’ with Ma. Having never known anything else, Jack doesn’t realise that he is missing out on the real world and, as a result, Jack plays with Ma, watches TV, dreams of an imaginary dog called Lucky, and is a relatively happy little boy – until night-time, when he hides in the wardrobe when Old Nick comes with all the skin-crawling slime of killer George Harvey in The Lovely Bones.
The film’s first act is exquisite in its simplicity as Ma transforms a claustrophobic, cabin-fever-inducing, 10ft x 10ft prison cell into Jack’s ‘Room’ – a magical world that ‘goes in all directions, all the way to the end’ with tales of Alice in Wonderland and The Count of Monte Cristo, lullabies, games, birthday cakes, TV planets, toilet cistern paper boats, and more.
As Jack turns five, however, Ma decided to tell him about the real world as he has become ‘so old and smart’. As Jack struggles to understand and becomes angry with his Ma’s story, Joy begins to struggle more and more with the four, seemingly shrinking, walls that entrap her and her quickly growing son. And as the second act of the film begins, adrenaline starts to pump, and pulses quicken as the audience is hoping, praying and screaming at the screen for Jack to escape, gain his freedom and see ‘the world’ for the first time.
Room, with a magnificent, compelling performance from Brie Larson as Joy, and the incredible Jacob Tremblay as Jack – who after this performance could arguably be considered the finest young actor of his generation at only nine-years-old – is a must-see cinema experience that will make the audience laugh, smile, cry, and experience the ultimate feeling of warm fuzziness. With Jack possessing the same inherent and untainted goodness, innocent, hope and resilience of the unnamed boy in post-apocalyptic drama The Road, Room is a one-off film, unlike any other – showcasing the difficulties for Joy of adjusting to life after abduction, sexual abuse and captivity, and Jack’s unrivalled power of hope and love.
What did you think of ‘Room’? Let me know in the comment section below.