DARK but not depressing, emotionally draining but still with hope, Room is a remarkable story about a mother and her child dealing with the world after having no contact with it for several years.
Five -year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Ma (Brie Larson) live in a small space they call “room”, which is furnished with the basic amenities, has no windows and only a skylight to minimally connect them with the outside world.
We learn Ma was kidnapped by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), the man who intermittently brings supplies and sexually abuses Ma on his visits, and has been held against her will for seven years.
Raising Jack to shield him from the reality of their situation (Jack has to stay in the closet during Old Nick’s visits) she teaches him there is only space outside the room and images on television are make believe.
When the two manage to escape, Ma must reintegrate and re-connect with her now broken family while Jack discovers every aspect of the outside world he has never been exposed to, nor even knew existed.
Deeply unsettling yet moving, Room is a harrowing account of people making the best of a dire situation who are then faced with the “real world” and the adjustments that entails.
Interestingly told from Jack’s point of view, it still allows us access to Ma (or Joy, her name before the abduction), who re-enters a world she learned to block out.
While Larson has received Academy Award recognition for her role through a Best Actress nomination, young Tremblay deserves equal accolades.
For such a young performer to be able to understand his character’s unusual experience and portray it with depth and realism is remarkable and echoes Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense.
There are several heartbreaking moments but also moments of heart-warming humanity.
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen
Four and a half stars
Review by Julian Wright
In cinemas today