ROOM – Review by Susan Granger
Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”) delivers an exquisite, Oscar-worthy performance as Joy, a young woman held captive in a small garden shed with her five year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her original 2010 best-seller and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (“Frank”), it’s basically told from Jack’s point-of-view. Jack has never left the squalid, sound-proofed, 10-by-10-foot room in which his Ma has been imprisoned for seven years. He was born there. Read on…
Gazing through the solitary skylight, Jack can see clouds, rain and an occasional leaf – but nothing else. Everything he knows about the outside world he’s learned from his resourceful Ma by playing games or watching television.
On his fifth birthday as Jack grows more curious, Ma informs him that she was 17 when she was kidnapped by a psychopath known as Old Nick (Sean Bridges), who visits periodically to deliver groceries and rape Ma, while Jack cowers in the wardrobe.
She says now is the time to plan their escape, a risky maneuver which will involve Jack’s bravely separating from his devoted mother for the first time in his life.
Eventually, Jack meets his grandparents (Joan Allen, William H. Macy), who divorced after Joy’s abduction, and Grandma’s new husband, Leo (Tom McCamus).
Once he’s in the outside world, Jack is understandably bewildered by his newfound freedom, while Joy tries to cope with the brutal psychological trauma she’s endured for so long.
Their adjustment process is complicated further when Joy agrees to a major TV network interview, only to be sandbagged when her motivations as a mother are questioned.
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay create an astonishingly intimate mother-son connection, although those who have read the novel may miss some of its daring frankness involving the concept of privacy and personal space.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Room” is a resilient, cathartic 8, combining a wondrous metaphor with a suspenseful thriller.