Movies are the highest form of artistic escapism and Lenny Abrahamson’s room is a movie about many things but essentially about escaping the conditions of one’s present reality, something every movie goer can relate well with. However, in these conditions we are presented with a Joy “Ma” Newsome, who has been kidnapped and held captive for seven years, five of which have been spent raising a child she gives birth to in captivity in the titular space that she names room. She transforms room into a planet existing for the continued survival and growth of her son, Jack. With amazing tenacity and a fine creative sense, room thrives despite the horrible conditions Ma and Jack are forced to be, which is harder than it looks if you ask anyone who has ever raised a child.
Room is the only thing Jack Newsome knows; at least according to Ma. The hopelessly endearing Jacob Tremblay rises in the morning to greet the lamp, the television and tables. He has been taught by Ma, that the world exists only in room and everything else is plastic, imaginary and two sided-just like the folks on television. The film follows the lives of Lenny and his mother in their cramped quarters relishing in the amazing simplicity of living a life in the same space every day and year out. There is of course his mother’s captor, who comes in to every few days to rape ma and to take lists for what they absolutely require. Old Nick barely registers Jack and they almost never see face to face. Wisely, the movie direction disallows us to dwell too much on this pseudo-antagonist; it is an injustice to the characters we continually observe in their nocturne. Yes, he is a kidnapper and rapist, no we will not allow our negative emotions towards him reduce this young mother and her child to simple victims, Lenny has given them much more.
Brie Larson, taps into dramatic brilliance with this performance. Her most emotionally charged moments often feature little or no dialogue, particularly in scenes where her only physical movement consists of looking at Jack. Jacob Tremblay is a gift. Carrying the narrative in his voice, he powers a unisex sense of childish resilience that only feels more impactful as the story develops. His character development is a perfect match for the plot pacing. His awareness of room and the outside world carry equal power. It is not about the environment but his perception of it. And boy are we unprepared. As the camera shifts focus from room, to the world outside, there is a possibility of one’s sense expanding; and here some challenges develop; the shaky camera movements and practiced focus on the characters faces feels inadequate when the movie shifts into a bigger space. We are left to perceive Jacob’s new world merely by his acting skills
At 117 minutes, the film runs a little too long, which led to a misguided, underdeveloped and entirely disposable storyline involving William H Macy. Still, he fills his performance boots accordingly. The other supporting characters provide the requisite emotional weight, and there is a touching scene when Jacob approaches grandma to cut off his Samson-like mane and give his mother so she can acquire the necessary strength to get better and return to him. Room is an emotionally exhaustive movie so of course, we are provided the necessary dramatic resolution.