Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, Tom McCamus, William H. Macy
Run Time: 118 mins
‘Room’ is an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s powerful Booker Prize shortlisted novel. It tells the story of Ma and Jack who are imprisoned in a garden shed but for Jack, who has never seen the outside world, this is his universe. In the director’s chair is Lenny Abrahamson who recently directed the interesting but tonally jumbled ‘Frank’. ‘Room’ is completely different territory story-wise and features a maturing Brie Larson in the lead role with child-actor Jacob Tremblay. It has received 4 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Very rarely would I say this, but ‘Room’ is a perfect film and deserves a 5 star rating. It is an inspiring watch and reaches various emotional heights. The performances from the cast all round are nothing short of incredible and Lenny Abrahamsson’s careful and assured direction works wonders. The film has a beaming heart at its core – at times the film is devastatingly sad and at others, warm and feel-good. There is never a dull moment – the film is expertly paced and takes ample time to develop its characters.
The acting is incredible. Brie Larson is perfect as Ma and commands the screen. There is a brief section in the film where she isn’t present and we are left with Jacob Tremblay’s Jack and the isolation felt as an audience member conveyed through him and the omission of Larson is testament to her performance. Jacob Tremblay’s career has really taken off thanks to this film and he is wonderful as the innocent and oblivious Jack. The chemistry between Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay is astonishingly good. I could have watched these characters all day long and I wouldn’t have got bored of them.
Even the supporting cast manage to hold their own and Tom McCamus brings a warm heart to the screen as does Joan Allen. Sean Bridgers is plain terrifying as ‘Old Nick’ and Abrahamson’s decision to portray this character through Jack’s eyes and we witness the torture and brutality that he is capable of inflicting. William H. Macy, who is a brilliant actor, is unfortunately underused for his talents but is effective in the short scenes that he does play in. I was really hoping to see his character feature at the end but it never happens and it leaves a gaping hole in these characters’ lives and his impression to the audience. Whilst he doesn’t get to showcase his talents, it’s an important role and he fits it very well.
Both distinct halves of this story are fantastic – what the audience witness is two very different films but both are completely engaging and cinematic. A lot of this is down to Emma Donoghue’s fantastic screenplay and whilst the film does cut out some details from the book, both book and film stand extremely high in their own right. Donoghue’s screenplay is suitably devastating and humorous at times and she deserves all the praise that she has received for her efforts.
Stephen Rennicks’ score compliments the film extremely well and the cinematography by Danny Cohen is also excellent, in particular the final shot. Both Cohen and Abrahamson have minute attention to detail and there is a sequence involving Jack’s feet that is so wonderfully executed and makes the world alien for him.
‘Room’ is a stunning and flawless piece of work. This deserves to win Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, but unfortunately I don’t think it will win as there will be a lot of audience members who won’t understand it. Brie Larson’s career will undoubtedly reach new heights and I hope she continues to pick the right roles and Lenny Abrahamson too has finally broken out into mainstream cinema. If I was asked to name my top 5 favourite films of the decade so far, this would definitely feature. It’s that good.