Rental Review - Room

Room (2015), R, 118 minutes - This week turned out to be a bit more busy than I had originally thought, resulting in my only having the opportunity to sneak in just one of this year's Oscar nominated films that I had yet to see: Room, based on Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name from 2010 (which I have not read).

Not to be confused with The Room (2003), which is widely regarded as one of the worst films of all time (I have not seen it myself), Room tells a story that is a bit difficult to describe.  The subject matter, beginning with abduction and neglect is dark and depressing.  On the other hand, later portions of the film are inspiring and depict a wonderful sense of innocence and wonder.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Joy (Brie Larson) live in a small space they refer to as 'room', which is locked from the outside at all hours by their captor Old Nick (Sean Bridgers).  They are provided with the bare necessities: a bed, a sink, a bathtub, a table with chairs, and food (which Old Nick brings them now and again).  Due to their captivity, the only world Jack knows is 'room'.  His only exposure to the outside world is the limited view through their skylight.  In his mind, anything that he can't see or touch isn't real.  After celebrating Jack's fifth birthday, Joy repeatedly attempts to explain to Jack that there is much more to the world than just 'room'.  Eventually, he grudgingly agrees to help with her plan of escape.  They pull a fast one on Nick, making him believe that Jack has passed away due to an extremely high fever.  Once out of 'room' and down the road (Jack is rolled up in a rug in the back of Nick's truck), Jack jumps out and is seen by a man walking his dog.  Nick first attempts to retrieve Jack but then decides that the situation doesn't look good and he speeds off.  After some slick detective work by the officer that arrives on the scene, they determine the location at which Jack and Joy were held captive and she is rescued as well.  The film then becomes a study of not only Jack's reaction to the world he never new existed, but also Joy's as she tries to find her place in the world that was ripped from her years ago.  One that is much different now than the one she remembers.

The performances by Tremblay and Larson are both outstanding.  Larson even picked up a Best Actress nomination at this year's Academy Awards.  Joan Allen (Nancy), William H. Macy (Robert), and Tom McCamus (Leo) add familiar faces to the cast in the roles of the support group Jack and Joy return to (Joy's mother, father, and mother's current boyfriend respectively).  Larson isn't the only one to receive attention for the film though, as director Lenny Abrahamson (Best Achievement in Directing), and Donoghue (Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay) also received Academy Award nominations.

As I mentioned, the circumstances of Joy's and Jack's captivity is disturbing and is a bit difficult to stomach, however the depiction of their love for each other and Jack's discovery of the outside world is worth the price of admission (or a rental at this point in time).  Room is a film that I would definitely recommend, just keep in mind that you need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it.  While it rebounds with scenes of hope and wonder, it is pretty dense and will stick with you for a while.

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