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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Room review: A daring take on the horrors of humanity through the innocent eyes of childhood

GEORGE KRAYCHYK / A24 / COURTESY
GEORGE KRAYCHYK / A24 / COURTESY

Riveting adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s best-seller evokes a powerful sentiment in young and old alike.

Room is not the conventional fast-paced thriller that moviegoers are accustomed to seeing. However, its daring take on the horrors of humanity through the innocent eyes of childhood make it an unforgettable motion picture. Director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) does so much with so little in his adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s best-seller, and recreates a riveting story that evokes a powerful sentiment in young and old alike.

Kidnapped at age 17 by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), Joy (Brie Larson) lives in his tiny soundproof garden shed with her five-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). With no way out and no one to save her, Joy is forced to raise Jack in the confining entrapment they call “Room,” providing a childhood for her son that is as nurturing as possible. They play games, bathe, cook, give names to inanimate objects and watch TV together. But as Jack grows older and increasingly curious, Joy must break from the daily routine and figure out a way to escape back to the outside world. The second half of the film focuses on Joy readjusting to society after spending years locked up, and on Jacob learning how the new world works.

Abrahamson takes a risk by setting much of the movie in the garden shed, putting a vast amount of pressure on the two protagonists to have their acting carry the film. Larson and the child actor Tremblay, who has skills well beyond his years, capture the audience’s attention with their superb performances, winning viewer’s hearts through a series of personal scenes demonstrating Joy and Jack’s devotion. Room is a beautiful portrayal of a mother and her son desperately trying to cling onto hope in the midst of harrowing conditions, and Joy’s unconditional love for her son is the film’s emotional core.

The performances of Larson and Tremblay are spectacular, thoroughly selling their story to the audience and taking the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride. You’ll laugh, cry, yell and genuinely be touched along the way. As much as Larson and Tremblay bring to the table, Abrahamson deserves his fair share of credit, as his masterful directing and attention to detail never waver or lose effectiveness. Reminiscent of Italian director Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, the poignant Room tells a tragic story through the innocent eyes of a child, offering audiences a truly special perspective on life and going the extra mile to teach audiences to never take a privileged upbringing for granted. The highlight of the film comes when Jack encounters the world outside his confinement for the first time. The screen literally lights up and Abrahamson seems to purposely bring a new spectrum of colors to the screen. It’s truly a breathtaking illustration of cinema magic.

With the help of the outstanding cast, Abrahamson orchestrates a myriad of themes to perfection and succeeds in this moving adaptation of Room. The only knock on the film is that the plot takes a bit too long to progress and therefore the movie seems stagnant at times. Despite a few rather slow moments, Abrahamson delivers an inventive movie that is well worth the price of admission. Those who decide to take a visit to Room will leave with a new perspective on the world, a perspective that will stay with viewers long after the movie is over.
WRITTEN BY: David Park – arts@theaggie.org

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