Severed from the rest of the world and held captive in a tiny, squalid room for seven long years, a young mother and her five year old son must find a way to cope with their imprisonment, to cope but never give up hope, striving to find light within the darkness. This resolve to never abandon hope and the sheer strength of the human spirit in the face of absolute horror is what Room embodies. Dublin born director Lenny Abrahamson crafts a harrowing, frightening in the extreme and yet inspirational and beautiful film which will stay with you for days. Based on Irish-Canadian writer Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel of the same title, Room is a forceful testament to the strength of a mothers love.
An intensely claustrophobic atmosphere is created in this film, the audience being transported into the hell on earth that confines Ma, a.k.a Joy (Brie Larson) and her little boy Jack (Jacob Tremblay), with half of the film set within the room itself, evoking a strong sense of the oppressive air that stifles Ma and Jack’s lives on a daily basis. Yet, Ma does all within her power to ensure that life is as normal as possible for Jack. In return, Jack brings light and love into Ma’s life, instilling her with the strength she needs to survive.
Brie Larson, as Ma, gives an awe-inspiring and chilling performance, one that has earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress, as well as a Critics’ Choice Award and an Oscar nomination. Her co-star, Jacob Tremblay, only nine years old, is simply amazing, bringing buckets of energy and emotion to his part, for which he most deservedly won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor. The monster of the piece, their captor, whom they dub Old Nick, is played by Sean Bridgers. Abducting the seventeen year old Joy, he imprisons her in his garden shed, tormenting her with cruel visit after cruel visit, sexually assaulting her on a regular basis, and then whining to her about his hardships, such as losing his job. Abrahamson and Donoghue have created in Old Nick a figure that truly embodies the banality of evil. Once Joy makes the courageous decision to escape, this evil follows her into the outside world, depicting what happens after freedom – the media circus, the struggle to once again adapt and the battle to fend off the demons that remain. Ultimately though, it is that ability to adapt and to overcome that shines through, with Jack personifying the wonder and magic of the world that nourishes the desire to survive and live.
Nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Room is a work of cinematic art that conveys an important message, reminding us to appreciate the beauty in the world around us and to never give up hope.