In a bid to make a reasonable decision on the Academy Awards this year, I’m trying to watch all the nominations before the show. I’ve seen most through 2015, but there are a few trying to slip in the last weeks. One such film is Room.
Room stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen and Tom McCamus and is directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, the film follows Joy (Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Tremblay), who have been locked in a room by “Old Nick” (Bridgers). They plot to trick “Old Nick” and escape.
I went into Room pretty blind. I’d seen the trailer, which had given away a few details, but originally I thought this was going to be a horror film. My co-host on Pure FM, Zach Lockwood, said to me that he thought it was going to be a sci-fi film. So I was surprised and in the end, overjoyed that Room turned into a humane drama about the relationship between mother and son.
Most of the film’s time is spent in the company of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who both sell the idea that they are parent and child. Brie Larson has taken a gigantic leap from her two most known roles (21 Jump Street and Trainwreck, both comedies) to her role as Joy in Room. It shows her ability as an actress, and highlights that she can do serious Oscar-bait dramas as well as comedies. Jacob Tremblay though is the standout of the film. This kid is nine at the time of writing and he’s already worthy of praise, which for child actors is rare. He pulls off every change that the script calls for with conviction and totally deserves the acclaim, I would give Best Actor to him over Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
The cinematography seems to be deliberately tied in with Jack’s vision throughout the film. It stays at a very low height, and emphasises the small things throughout the room. Jack has never experienced the outside before, all he knows is the room and amazingly, the cinematography is able to capture how he believes that the room is large and is his entire universe.
Once Jack finally manages to escape, the cinematography changes, it takes in wide-shots of the sky and tries to focus in on everything, just like Jack is doing. We almost feel the same as Jack does when he first get’s out, we’ve been cooped up in the room for so long that when the characters do get outside, it’s like nothing we’ve seen before. Even things like “Old Nick” are viewed through a child-like lens, he’s the equivalent of the Bogey-Man, never truly visualised and always steeped in shadow, similar to how Toy Story visualised demon-child Sid’s father. It’s a novel way to capture a story and makes it all the more interesting to watch.
Room is a story that drags you through what could be one of the most hellish experiences to ever happen to someone but it’s all through the always-optimistic eyes of a five year-old. While it could have been easy for the film to become melancholic and depressing, it somehow manages to keep you happy to a degree. You smile and laugh even in the most dark points of the story because you see a young child who has joy and happiness in his life.
To summarise, Room deserves it’s place in the Best Picture nominations. I know that it’s only January, but when we get to the end of 2016, I’ll be surprised if Room doesn’t make it onto my Top Ten of the year. This definitely one to not miss. You might want to bring your tissues though, nearly the entire theatre I was in were in tears by the end.
Score: 8/10 Over-whelming and somehow joyous.