Normally, when it comes to films, I am a frivolous, superficial and escapist guy.
I love “rom-coms” and wacky off the wall comedies like Bridesmaids or more recently, Amy Schumer’sTrainwreck. Or action/thriller fare as the “Bourne” and “Mission Impossible” series.
But critics are acclaiming Brie Larson’s performance in the drama/thriller Room as Oscar-worthy.
So I decided to get out of my comfort zone and attend a seemingly disturbing and uncomfortable film about a woman who was kidnapped as a teenager and held locked up in a single small room by her captor for many years.
I am glad I did.
Yes, the first half of Room is at times painful to watch.
It is filmed entirely in a sound-proof garden shed. Joy (Brie Larson) a 20-something young woman, is imprisoned with her five year old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Over time, we learn that Joy was picked off the street at 17 by Old Nick, a 40 something slimy dude, and has been living in this shed for seven years. Jack is the result of Joy being raped by Old Nick.
The shed consists of one skylight, a single bed, a makeshift bathroom and tub, a hotplate, microwave, sink, a television and some chairs and a closet where Jack sleeps when Old Nick comes to the shed to regularly rape Joy.
Within these confines, Joy carves out a loving life for herself and Jack. They exercise and cook together. She teaches Jack how to read and write and he expresses himself beautifully. She reads him classic children’s books such as Alice in Wonderland and Robinson Crusoe and tells him Bible stories. She lets Jack grow his hair long like his biblical hero, Samson.
Joy also tries to explain to Jack the magic of the outside world that he could only glimpse upward through a skylight and through television. The two of them bicker like any normal mother and son. But surprisingly, under horrible circumstances, they appear to have created a very warm and loving little family of two.
The screenplay was adapted to the screen by Emma Donoghue, the author of the original award-winning novel of the same name. Room won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Award, the Man Booker and Rogers Writers Trust awards, and was a New York Times bestseller.
This film is faithful to the book in which the action and the world is seen through Jack’s eyes. And that is both the book’s and the film’s genius.
Jack and Joy eventually escape and the second half of the film depicts how Jack and his mom relate to the outside world, once Joy is reunited with her estranged parents.
There is joy, literally and figuratively, as Jack tries to embrace, comprehend and articulate the real outside world. But there is also pain, frustration, and confusion as Joy tries to come to grips with how her life has been so altered by that one fateful day when she was kidnapped.
It’s a small movie, filmed in Toronto, with great Canadian talent and a big heart.
Room is well worth seeing.