Room (2016) – Film Review

Fascinating albeit tough look at the psychology of abduction


Room is directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank (2014)) and is based on a book by  Emma Donoghue who also takes on screenwriting duties.  It stars Brie Larson as Joey, a young lady who a number of years before we meet her was abducted by a mystery assailant and has subsequently had a son called Jack (Jacob Tremblay).  The film tells the story of their life in a single room shed before they escape and in Jack’s case deal with the outside world for the first time.

The film examines what it takes to survive in truly abnormal circumstances.  The way in which Larson’s character tries to flesh out an entire world for her son in such a confined space while creating a routine and sense of normalcy.  Even more profound for me was the movie’s brilliant take on the fact that escape is just the beginning.  Jack has only ever really known one person and now there’s a whole word of people and noise and light.  For a long time we assume it is he who will have the greatest challenge dealing with his new circumstances but then it becomes clear his mum is equally screwed up.  As a teenager she was ripped from her normal life and has a child fathered by her abductor.  We also meet her parents who have split up and her father struggles to even look at Jack because of what he represents.  It’s not easy material and one person left the screening I was in.

Having finally caught up with this film I understand why Larson won the Oscar although we shouldn’t forget young Mr Tremblay as much of the story focuses on him.  Room is a bit of a slow burn at first but once I understood the world of these two characters all of that melted away and I was engrossed in the story of their lives.  The only thing stopping this film from winning that elusive fifth star was that it lacked that X factor, that fizz, that I need to feel to take that last step.  Room is not a film that I’ll be watching over and over again but it’s one that as many people as possible should go and see if only once.  My rating 4/5.

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