Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Seven years ago, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) was kidnapped on the street by a man asking for help for his sick dog. She was forced to live in the cramped confines of a woodshed in his back yard. Two years after her kidnap, she gave birth to a son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), the product of her captor’s rape. Every Sunday, her captor, who goes by Nick (Sean Bridgers), brings them just enough supplies to survive the week. Now, just days after Jack’s fifth birthday, Joy plans their clever and daring escape. But adjusting to the new world—and for Jack, adjusting to the world at all—will be as difficult as anything they’ve encountered so far.
“Room” tells a unique story of true to life horror without falling into the common traps. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen—it’s not a horror movie, but it is able to build incredible amounts of suspense. Emma Donoghue adapted the screenplay from her own 2010 novel. The changes from the page to the screen are minor, but what changes were made feel authentic in the hands of the novelist. The story is partly based on a real life case, but the story feels wholly original. Through a lens of fiction, “Room” is able to express the strong emotions of its story better than anything that was “based on a true story.” The script is a masterpiece, all the way to the pivotal last line. And it helps that the dialogue is spoken by more-than-capable actors Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who appeared on screen for the first time earlier this year in “Before I Wake.” Larson makes a strong case for Best Actress. She’s invigorated with emotion on a very real level. She’s beyond the days of Disney Channel original movies. And Tremblay has ignited Oscar buzz of his own. He gives Jack the necessary amount of trepidation and confusion, but also the certainty of every five-year-old boy. There’s no lack of annoying tantrums. But what more would you expect? Together, Larson and Tremblay share a chemistry I wouldn’t call anything short of miraculous. It’s rare to see a young actor—Tremblay is only 9—so in touch with what it takes to act convincingly. This kid has it.
“Room” fills you with hope. It’s a beautiful and moving expression of a wide range of emotions. In a film with so much screen-time for its two leads, you expect them to make a mistake once or twice. To cave under the pressure. But they never do. “Room” is everything you want from an Oscar favorite, but it’s not just for critics. It’s an anti-Hallmark movie, with all the emotions and none of the insincerity.