Room, rated R
This film is based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 book Room: A Novel, which according to the author is not based on any specific real-life case. Donoghue also wrote the screenplay. In many ways, this is a story of a mother “Ma” (or Joy), played by Brie Larson, and her five year old son Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay.
The film is directed by Lenny Abrahamson and has been nominated for four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Writing and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published), Larson has already won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. This is one of the better films we have seen recently, right up there with The Big Short, Spotlight and The Martian.
Room is the story of “Ma” who was kidnapped at age 17 by “Old Nick” (which throughout history has at times been a name used for the devil), played by Sean Bridgers. Since then, she has been imprisoned in a small (about 11’ x 11’) shed on “Old Nick’s” property in suburban Ohio for seven years. Ma gave birth to Jack during this period and has tried to escape at least once. The film is seen primarily through Jack’s eyes.
As the film begins, Jack is celebrating his fifth birthday. In those five years, he has never been outside of “Room”. His only outside connection is with an old television set that gets poor reception and a small skylight. In Room we also see a few tables, a bathtub, bed, toilet, pictures and books. Ma has taught him how to read and about a world she wants him to know, not all of which is true. Ma still breastfeeds Jack. To Jack, Room is reality and TV is make believe. Despite their terrible circumstances, he seems genuinely happy (he knows no other life), and has a very close relationship with his mother.
“Old Nick” comes by in the evenings to bring them groceries and to rape Ma, while Jack hides in the closet, pretending to be asleep. We don’t see the rapes, and only slightly hear the bed creaking.
Jack has never seen “Old Nick”, but one night he comes out and looks at him sleeping in the bed with Ma. When “Old Nick” wakes up and wants to touch Jack, Ma starts screaming and lashing out at “Old Nick”, who then grabs her by the throat, badly bruising it. To punish her, he turns off the power to the shed, to the point that Jack can see his breath in the air.
Seeing that “Old Nick” is getting increasingly dangerous, Ma begins to think of how she can get Jack out of Room. She also begins to tell Jack more about the real world that he doesn’t know even exists. Jack struggles to understand and believe that there is a world outside of Room.
To tell you any more about the plot would ruin it for you. Suffice to say, Larson, and even more so the now 9 year old Tremblay, deliver incredible performances here. I felt that this was an incredibly powerful film experience.
The film is rated “R” for adult language and themes included such as sexual slavery, depression, suicide and physical and psychological struggles. It includes abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names. Despite the themes included in the film, it is a touching story of a mother and her young son. Still, it is a film best suited for mature teens and adults.