Review: Impossible not to love Room for what it delivers: a profoundly heart-wrenching mother-and-son drama and a showcase of heart-throbbing performances by Oscar nominee, Brie Larson, and Jacob Tremblay.
Room, at its core, is a partial survival story; with the other part—which dominates most—is a borderless motherly love story. The story revolves around the life of Joy (Brie Larson), who has been living in a confined ‘room’ for seven years after being abducted when she’s 17. For the last five years, she’s been raising her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), while being held captive within four walls of the ‘room.’
For Joy—or let’s call her ‘Ma’—the whole room is a harrowing prison, where sense of constriction and claustrophobic is separating her from the real world. However, it’s not the same thing for Jack; for him, the ‘room’ is whole world. That alone has become a reason for Ma to live—protecting her child, ensuring her child’s happiness, and being Jack’s source of life; she, thus, creates a world for Jack—similar to the bittersweet world in Life is Beautiful (1997)—to make sure that only happiness is seen from Jack’s perspective. It creates a reciprocal bond—where Jack also gives Ma a little spark of hope.
Being told in Jack’s perspective—Ma’s effort is seemingly not a desperate one (though, it’s actually a desperate one). Jack brings bliss and naivety to the screen with his sense of imagination probed by his Ma’s creation. Abrahamson, working with DoP Danny Cohen, playfully takes this into concerns. Similar to Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Abrahamson takes on-screen hope into cinematic wonders. When Jack’s happy and Ma’s got a lot sparks of hope, the camera (and possibly the production design) intricately alters the perspective of the small room into a huge, full of details chamber. In opposite, when the hope’s low, your eyes would see the room as a very cramped, constricting place where two people doesn’t even fit in. This cinematic treat is a recurring element that makes Room intriguing.
Freedom or liberation or sovereignty, you name it, might seemingly be an ultimate goal of Room’s narrative. Yet, when it comes to this, Donoghue has a different agenda. There’s a one-key moment in the middle of Room, which defies the ‘freedom’ premise and triggers a completely different setup for the second half. YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE.
When the long awaited freedom—the long expected happy ending—finally comes, Room only starts to frustrate the audiences with the fact that it’s even half-way to the end. When the four walls of the ‘room’ have been breached out, then something else has been shattered as well and no one noticed it until it happens. It’s Jack’s world and his whole perception which is ruined the same time they got out from the ‘room.’ For this, Abrahamson has prepared something more asphyxiating: a much broader world which feels as constricting as the ‘room.’ And, that’s where Room becomes more alive than before.
Abrahamson (whose previous movie, Frank, is also rewarded my 4 stars) has outdone himself with Room. His witty black comedy that embraces creativity and absurdity fueled by Fassbender’s enigmatic performance in Frank might be something to remember from Abrahamson’s CV, but instead of making, a pretentious similar movie, he moved on and made a more sentimental one, which surprisingly, showcases his penchant in film-making.
Abrahamson’s terrific direction is fueled with sterling performances delivered by two main characters. Brie Larson (which also excels in Short Term 12 as well as in some minor roles in The Spectacular Now and Trainwreck and many other) finally finds herself under the right spotlight. In a role of a abducted victim turns into a heroine to her child, Larson delivers a life-time performance, which hopefully just a start of her long, starry career. In opposite side, Jacob Tremblay as a long-haired boy-son of Larson’s character is also delivering a surprisingly, strong performance. Given the weight of the whole movie, Tremblay doesn’t tremble and that’s terrifically heart-pounding in a sense that Room is a very uncomfortable movie to watch.
Room, although depicts depressive tragedy, is never been a cheap tear-jerking drama; it’s instead evolving from an optimistic survival drama into an escalating self-acceptance and trauma-healing drama, which once again, is very optimistic. It has never been easy to watch Room, but when it finishes, it’s hard to let it go.