"Room" (2015)- Movie Review

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Emma Donoghue (based off acclaimed novel)
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay and William H. Macy

‘Absolutely Unforgettable’

It is always so hard to move on from a traumatic experience in life. Whether it is abuse early on in childhood or the loss of a loved one, once they occur it can be hard to forget about such experiences. Sometimes, these experiences are so traumatic that like a nightmare they haunt a person throughout life.

Yet, what if there is a glimmer of hope? What if there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the darkest of times?

This is the tragic situation faced by Ma and her five-year old son Jack in the latest coming-of-age drama “Room”. Set in a claustrophobic room, the film offers an inspiring story of survival of a mother and her child against overwhelming odds. Trapped in a room that is isolated from the outside world, Ma and Jack are faced with plenty of challenges: poor living conditions, loneliness and most tragically, no access to the real world. Just when hope seems to be lost, Ma and Jack find a way to escape. However, as they discover the world, they find that adjusting to it isn’t as easy as they thought it was going to be.

These series of events set the stage for Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room”, a believable, thought-provoking and deeply moving film that explores the struggles faced by people who are unable to move on from the past. Based on the popular and acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue, it is a film that brings awareness to controversial issues not often discussed in society today. Although this makes for heavy subject matter that is hard to digest, it is very well-handled by director Lenny Abrahamson. Through phenomenal acting, sharp writing and an eye for detail, Lenny Abrahamson impressively translates a well-known novel to the big-screen. That is quite an accomplishment and one of the many reasons why “Room” is one the best films of the year.

Why is it an accomplishment, one might ask? Aren’t many novels successfully adapted to the big-screen? Of course, but few if any manage to do justice to the source material. Every once in a while there are rare exceptions to this trend, such as books like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Godfather” being turned into classic films. “Room” is one of those rare, one-of-a-kind films that deserves to be mentioned among those classic book-to-film adaptations. It is not easy to translate a beloved novel that many consider to be unfilmable to the big-screen, however, director Lenny Abrahamson impressively pulls this off. Despite the book’s tough subject matter and slightly unusual story, he crafts a film that captures it’s gist and meaning.

Like the most memorable book-to-film adaptations, “Room” is a very well-written film that works due to a terrific script. On a rare occasion, the film’s screenplay has been written by none other than the author of the novel herself, Emma Donoghue. This works in favor of the film, lending it a sense of realism that is not often found in most movies that are adaptations of books. Offering characters that you come to care about, believable situations and emotions that tug at the heartstrings, the script is one of the most admirable aspects about the film. Another aspect of the script that is exceptionally well-done is the voice-over narration. Cleverly used to put the audience into the mindset of a five-year old, it does a great job of portraying how life might look like from the perspective of a child.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect about the film, however, is the acting. It is unlikely that you will come across a film as well-acted as “Room” this year. The two lead actors, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, have gotten much awards attention recently and when you see the film it’s easy to see why. Both deliver inspirational performances that stick with you long after you leave the theater.

Brie Larson breaks your heart as a courageous mother struggling to raise her child. In one of the most demanding movie-roles of the year, Larson is faced with the challenge of playing a woman who endures unimaginable trauma throughout life. She is mentally and physically broken from the inside, with literally nothing to live for but her child. It’s not an easy role for an actress to tackle, however, with bravery Larson does full justice to it. At times, you almost forget that she is acting which is perhaps the greatest compliment that can ever be given to an actor.

Jacob Tremblay is absolutely mesmerizing, perfectly cast in the role of Larson’s intelligent son. Occasionally stealing the show from his co-star, this young child is astonishingly talented and skilled at acting for his age. Due to his commanding screen presence and ability to handle a challenging role, it is almost hard to believe that he is a first-time actor. Even though this is only Tremblay’s first major role in a motion-picture, not for one second do you believe that you’re watching a first-time actor which is quite commendable.

To give credit where it’s arguably due, director Lenny Abrahamson uses these actors beautifully to tell a timeless story of hope. It is not often that you come across movies with a message nowadays. For most, the gist and meaning get lost because they only intend to entertain. What makes “Room” such a special film is that it’s more than just entertainment, it’s a film that shows how important it is to never give up in life in the most troublesome of times.

Admittedly, however, it’s a message that will not appeal to everyone. Since the film tackles heavy subject matter such as rape, kidnapping and depression, “Room” is not going to be for the faint of heart. It is an intense movie that will only reward those who are willing to sit through it. For such movie-goers, including me, it is joyous to finally see a film that is meaningful in a year that has been recycled with meaningless films.

4.5/5 stars

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