By Gary Murray
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay and Sean Bridgers
Written by Emma Donoghue
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Running time 118 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
There are many different emotions that happen when one watches a film. At times, the audience becomes enthralled by an action sequence or trembling in their seats by a well-crafted terror moment. There are comedy movies that lighten the heart with silly bits. In the new film Room, there are all of those moments. The film also slaps the audience over and over again. It is one of the hardest films to watch in this year.
The art house film opens with two people in a small room. Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is a five year-old boy who has never been outside of these four walls. He gets all of his information from Ma (Brie Larson), a woman who seems a bit confused and tortured. She has to explain to young Jack the difference between the real world and cartoons. The youngster’s hair has never seen a scissor and at his young age, Jack looks like a little girl. He can read at a level much higher than a child of his age.
As the film unfolds, we find that Jack and Ma have been in this prison with no way to escape. Ma has to satisfy Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) and has been doing so for a long time. Eventually, Ma comes up with a plan to get Jack out of the one room prison. It works and Jack is rescued.
This is where most of these films would end. But this is where the film gets to the half-way point. We see the police rescue Ma. Then there is the media onslaught. We also see how much the world of Ma’s has changed over the last seven years. Her parents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy) have moved on and never imagined that they would see their child again much less have a grandson. The last half of the film is how everyone must adjust to Jack and how Jack must adapt to the real world.
Even though the film sounds like a serious downer, there are many laugh-filled moments in this film. Almost all of them are character-driven. Young Jack doesn’t understand much of the outside world and his weak grasp of how the mechanics of what we all take for granted generate delight.
There are also moments of terror. Ma has to perform for Old Nick while Jack has to hide in the closet. He is supposed to be asleep but he is wide awake and watching the two performing the act. There are many moments where director Lenny Abrahamson hits his audience with shocking reality. This is a film that goes way down the rabbit hole, exposing the audience to shocking instants that will be remembered for a long time. Lenny also makes a 10 x 10 room become an entire universe, both complicated and intricate. His work in Room is simply amazing
Jacob Tremblay delivers one of the best performances of 2015. This young actor is part Huckleberry Finn and part Marx Brother as a character who is both quick with a quip but who has a personal code of right and wrong. He is precocious and wise at the same time. It is just a brilliant reading of the role.
In the end, Room is a well-acted, interesting film that I never want to experience again. It is just too hard to take in more than once. As brilliant as Lenny Abrahamson gives his art house audience, it is also an artistic bomb that one never wants to have exploded in their laps for a second time.