Much more understated in its promotional campaign than its awards season rivals – and a much harder film to describe with any vigor and make it sound interesting – Room is a film that simply needs to be seen. It may not seem it but it’s a wonderful hidden gem, the quality of which will only become apparent once you’ve seen it.
It is a film set in two distinct acts. The first act is based entirely in the room in which a woman known as Joy (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) have been held captive by the mysterious Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). Following their release, they are reunited with Joy’s family and the outside world – a world that has left Ma behind and that Jack has never even experienced. Overwhelmed by their new freedom and affected by their psychological damage, we follow Joy and Jack as they try to find any kind of normality in their new life.
The tiny room is suffocating in its lack of space and the feeling of being trapped is never more convincingly portrayed than when Jack is hiding in his cupboard. Looking primarily from his point of view in this first act, the room comparatively seems quite large – to him it is the whole world as he knows nothing else.
Through the unavoidable depressing nature of the situation, there are moments included that are truly uplifting. Seeing Jack finally open up to a family member is a beautiful moment. Indeed, it is surprising that Jacob Tremblay hasn’t been singled out for his stunning performance as Jack, a child who has gone through an impossible first five years of life. He has either been coached really well or is a true natural.
That said, Brie Larson can rightfully take the praise for her leading performance. Her character has taken the journey from childhood to motherhood within the confines of one small room and has remained strong for the sake of her child. The emotional turmoil is all there to be seen. It is deliberately difficult but equally rewarding to witness.
An early contender for one of my top films of the year.
Room is on general release globally now.