Review: Room (2015)

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Anchored by a pair of rich, intricate performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, Room – self-adapted from Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel – somehow manages to be both fascinating and uplifting in the face of unrelenting bleakness. Ma (Larson) and Jack (Tremblay) live in a cramped shed, locked away from the outside world by their captor. The small space, captured in minute detail, is all Jack knows. Ma, on the other hand, wants out, and takes it upon herself to set them free. Lenny Abrahamson’s sensitive and intuitive direction is an ideal match for the difficult material, and the first half set inside the room is tense and emotionally charged. It’s a credit to the production designs for how homey the set appears. Larson and Tremblay are, too, exceptional; their tender bond one of the most convincing mother-child relationships depicted on screen. But it’s when the action shifts outside the four walls that Room truly comes alive as Ma and Jack are faced with a new set of demands that are equally – if not more – painful than what came before. The environment they knew for so long has been stripped away, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to the real world. It’s hard to watch, made more so by the realism Abrahamson strives for and the incredible emotional depths the film reaches. As compelling as Room is, it’s inevitably challenging and unnerving to watch. But seen through the perspective of wide-eyed and innocent Jack, hope emerges from even the darkest of places.

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