Room Review: Gut-wrenchingly Powerful Drama

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen

Please note, this review contains minor spoilers – but no more than is already spoilt in the trailer!

The Overview

Based on the best-selling novel by Emma Donoghue, Room is the story of five-year-old Jack (Tremblay), his “Ma” (Brie Larson), and their unbelievable escape from the confines of the small room that has been Jack’s entire world since he was born. Completely cut off, Jack has a whole new world to discover in this emotional and hard-hitting drama.

The Good

Wow. There is no other word I can use to start this review. At the time of writing this review it has been roughly 24 hours since I saw this movie, and it is all I have been able to think of from the moment I left the cinema. I was determined to read Emma Donoghue’s novel before seeing the film, and I loved it so much I read it in a day. Therefore I had a pretty good idea that I would enjoy this film as I adored the book so much, but seeing it brought to life was even more powerful and wonderful than I could have imagined.

Using the word “enjoy” or any positive words to describe this film somehow seems a bit wrong. It is after all an incredibly hard-hitting, emotional, horrific and at times difficult to watch film, so it is difficult to “enjoy” in that sense; but let’s just say I had a huge appreciation for this film. The way it handled an incredibly difficult subject matter, and some truly terrible events, whilst still leaving you full of hope was absolutely beautiful. I have never heard a cinema as quiet as the one I was in watching this film. You could have heard a pin drop! It was completely mesmerising, heartbreakingly moving and a staggeringly wonderful cinema experience.

Already there is awards buzz surrounding Brie Larson, and rightly so. As Ma, she delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, conveying the complexity and full range of emotions that this character goes through in the course of the film. She is completely believable in every sense, and her relationship with Jack is so wonderfully portrayed. Jacob Tremblay is absolutely flawless as Jack, and completely blew me away. This would be a demanding role for an adult, let alone a child, but he is absolutely outstanding. He is able to display a range of incredibly complex emotions, but is also wonderfully able to play a child just being a child. It is rare that child actors are able to act at being a child so convincingly without being annoying, or seeming forced. Tremblay does this better than anyone I have ever seen on screen before, and it will take a lot to beat this performance.

Just as it is in the book, I loved that the story is told almost entirely through Jack’s eyes. He narrates at times, and we also see the things he sees for the first time through his eyes. Whilst it is not a situation many of us can relate to (thankfully), we can all relate to that feeling of being a child and experiencing something new and frightening for the first time, and this is wonderfully put across.

The book is a bit more of an even split between their time in Room, and their time in the outside world, but I liked that the focus shift in the film was more on their time outside of Room. The time that we did spend in Room with Jack and Ma was stifling and claustrophobic enough, and I certainly felt a sense of relief when they were outside. Had they have spent more time in Room on screen, I fear it would have reached the point of repetitiveness, so this was a change I was happy with.

The Bad

A rare thing, but I honestly couldn’t find anything bad in this film, other than it made me cry. A lot. This isn’t even a bad thing, crying only proves an emotional connection to the film and the characters, and the fact the film is able to provoke this kind of reaction really just proves how good it is.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. It is early days, but this is without question the best film I have seen in a long time, and it will take a lot of beating to find a better film this year. Both of the lead performances are utterly flawless, the way the story is told is moving beyond words, and every aspect of the look and feel of the film is gut-wrenchingly powerful. I cannot recommend this film highly enough, just make sure you take tissues, and prepare to have your heart broken. 2016, you have started well!  

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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