Sunday, December 27, 2015

Movie Review: "Room"

Simply put, Room is a gut-wrenching sucker punch of a movie. If you haven't heard anything about it or the book it's based on, so much the better, so I'm going to keep this review to the basics.

Jack (Ethan Tremblay) is five years old. Like any five-year-old, at times Jack is demanding, questioning, and/or hyperactive, but his mother (Brie Larson), who is raising Jack on her own, does everything in her power to keep him happy. They tell stories, watch television, do crafts, and run races, among other things, and Jack knows how much Ma cares about and wants to protect him.

As long as he can remember, Ma has told Jack stories about the world around them. But now that he is five, she tells him the truth, and she needs his help. She needs Jack to be braver than he has ever imagined, and do something incredibly scary, but something that will hopefully change their lives.

Room, based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, is an immensely powerful, incredibly moving film about the incredible sacrifices a mother makes to keep her child safe and happy despite extraordinary circumstances, and the one chance she takes to try and change their situation. It's the story of how we choose to deal with a situation beyond our comprehension, and how lives change. And it's also the story of how sometimes in our rush to protect someone else, we forget to deal with our own problems, and the difficulties this may cause.

I have been a fan of Brie Larson's since I saw her amazing performance in Short Term 12 a few years ago. That movie was on my list of the best movies I saw in 2013, and Larson's performance should have garnered her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. But as good as that performance was, her performance in Room is rawer and more powerful. It's emotional and angry without being maudlin, and you can read the conflicts her character faces in every expression, every gesture. This is an Oscar-winning performance, plain and simple.

Although Jacob Tremblay is actually nine years old in real life, he is tremendously believable as a five-year-old, especially one as unique as Jack. He perfectly captures the frustration and limited comprehension of children that age, yet Jack's bravery is incredible, and Tremblay imbues his performance with both vulnerability and innocent bravado. If there is any justice, he'll receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination in a few weeks.

While this movie may not seem realistic, sadly, it is more real than we'd like to imagine, but we don't get to hear the stories of those in Ma and Jack's situation. Room is never flashy, never overdone—if anything, its power lies within its simplicity. This is a must-see, although it will stay with you for some time afterward.

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