Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Room is a gut-wrenching story about Ma, a young mother (Brie Larson) in her mid-twenties who is being held captive in a shed with her five-year old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Her abductor routinely shows up to bring her supplies and groceries, and eventually Ma and Jack devise an escape plan.
Ma and Jack live in a shed with no windows. Their only source of light is a skylight which doesn’t allow them to see what’s outside of their living space. No matter where you stand, everything is within a few feet of you. The yellowed kitchen sink is crammed against a moldy bathtub that sits next to the toilet. A bed and a wardrobe barely fit into the room. One thing that is rarely shown is the heavy door that locks the mother and son in the room. There’s a key pad but naturally Ma does not know the combination. Every few days Ma’s abductor stops by for a visit, which includes spending the night with Ma while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe.
Why in the world would I see this movie?
This movie would not go over well as a family viewing or as a first date dinner/movie combo. The premise is immediately depressing and I actually avoided this until Brie Larson won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. So after I saw this movie I came up with three quick reasons to check it out:
- This isn’t what you think it is. To keep this spoiler-free, I will tell you this is not a claustrophobic thriller that has you holding your breath until the very end. It is much gentler because:
- There’s a deep, intense bond between mother and son. The characters’ captivity often takes a backseat to the story of a mother and child. Ma finds clever ways to keep her son healthy and imaginative, and as a result he loves their room even though it’s a simmering nightmare for her. What really makes this a tearjerker is that:
- The story is largely told from Jack’s point of view. Something interesting happens here because Ma was a teenager when she was kidnapped, so she knows there is a life outside of the shed. Jack was born in the shed and it’s all he knows. He draws at the kitchen table, watches TV, plays on the floor with his imaginary friends and is a happy five-year old. In his mind, there is nothing outside of the four walls and he fights with his mother when she explains the escape plan to him.
About the actors
Brie Larson has received the bulk of praise as Ma, and she did a great job with blending helplessness, resentment, and maternal love in such a realistic way. Jacob Tremblay was a great choice to portray Jack, who unwittingly moves the plot along and also injects enough ‘Kids Say the Darnedest Things’ humor into the story to keep it from being too depressing.
You may have heard or noticed that Joan Allen and William H. Macy play Ma’s parents, and I would’ve liked to see Allen receive some nominations for her role as a distraught mother/grandmother who doesn’t know what to do, what to say, or how to react to some of the events in the movie.
I always discuss the length of the movie in each of my reviews. Look, I have stuff to do! I can’t spend all freaking day watching a never-ending movie, especially if the movie isn’t good enough to go the distance.
So, at almost two hours long there were a couple of times when I felt the plot was dragging a bit. I felt the second half felt aimless at times but then it straightened out and finished very well.
I don’t think this movie should win ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars but I do think it’s worth a viewing at the movie theater.
Have you seen Room? Let me know what you think!