Brie Larson has been sweeping the awards circuit for her work in Room, and it’s not hard to see why. She and Jacob Tremblay are the emotional heart of this drama, and it is the believability of their characters and their relationship that really makes the film what it is.
Room, based on the book by screenwriter Emma Donoghue, tells the tale of ‘Ma’ (Larson) and her five-year-old son, Jack (Tremblay). Ma had been kidnapped as a teenager and subsequently held captive in ‘Room’ for seven years, being abused by her captor (known only as ‘Old Nick’), who is Jack’s biological father. The film is a tale of two halves, firstly exploring their life in ‘Room’, before detailing their adjustment to normality after escaping.
What makes Room so uniquely interesting, is the fact that it is shown through the eyes of Jack. ‘Room’ is his world, and thus it becomes the audience’s, seeing everything in it as all that exists, and as the outside as something that can only be found on television. This child-like filter, despite what you may possibly expect, adds a particular emotional depth to the story as the audience will understand what Jack does not, making the horrific realities of his life and the abuse of his mother much more horrendous due to the contrast with Jack’s innocent perspective.
The film is held up by the powerhouse performances from Larson and Tremblay as, for much of the film, they are all the audience sees, in one location. Their relationship seems so authentic and real, the audience becomes fully invested in the characters and their struggles. Larson loses herself in Ma, becoming the overwrought mother and broken woman, weakened and abused, who sees the reality of their situation, yet tries to remain strong for her son. Larson brings such incredible depth and raw feeling to the character, to her emotions and intentions, giving a truly remarkable performance. She is matched every step of the way by the 10 year-old Tremblay who is phenomenal as the young Jack, displaying incredible range in a brilliantly textured and deep performance, that should not be overlooked (especially) because he is a child.
The film owes a lot to its director, Lenny Abrahamson, too who has created a world so real and coaxed such brilliant performances from his actors. Abrahamson lets Room engulf you, truly making you feel as though you are there with the characters, finding ways to utilise the singular location (for the first half of the film) to make it interesting and feel as though it is the whole world. He adeptly crafts the film to make the child’s viewpoint accessible and captivating for all audiences. His direction, with Donaghue’s story, truly makes for an intensly involving story. The film’s climactic scenes are particularly affecting, one so arresting you will be holding your breath and gripping the arm of your chair. Some scenes are so expertly written and executed, they may even induce goosebumps due to the powerful hold the film has over you.
The key players in Room have helped craft an incredibly emotional tale that will hold your attention and keep you invested through every event that occurs.