This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Andrew’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I remember the hubbub the Room was getting a few years ago during Oscar season. I do remember Brie Larson winning the Oscar for best actress, but despite all of that the film never really made its way onto my radar. Well, I was browsing Netflix tonight looking for a film to watch when I saw this film, Room, on there. I've never seen it listed in Netflix before so I said what the heck and decided to watch it. I had no idea what to expect, but what I got was a film that tells a story of rape, abuse, trauma, but underlying all of that is the love between a mother and her son.
The story revolves around Ma, or Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) and her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), where they spend their days living in a small room. They occasionally get visited by a man named Old Nick, an enigma to Jack. Old Nick is the man who abducted Joy when she was seventeen years old. He took her, raped her, and she was locked in a garden shed for seven years, five of them with Jack. Joy decides to make a plan to help Jack escape to the outside world and get help. They are both able to be freed from their captor and the second half of the film follows their life in the outside world.
This film did so many things right. The acting between Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay was a sight to behold. Especially Brie, she was really a mother to Jack, a survivor of abuse, and a person who kept fighting to reclaim her life. Her Oscar win was well deserved.
The story itself was excellent as well. It had quiet moments, scary moments, intense moments, but also many happy moments as well. My deduction of half a star was there were a few times I thought the film had a good place to end but it kept going. There were some scenes between these moments, that while still good, I didn't really think they contributed much to the story or the journey of Joy and Jack.
One thing that really surprised me was how good the cinematography was, especially in the Room itself. In such a confined space I would think that it would be hard to do anything great camera wise but it was done fantastically here so that was pretty nice.
I'm going to talk a bit about the trauma and abuse in the film so if it's triggering, please feel free to skip to the last paragraph.
As a trauma victim and a survivor of abuse myself this film struck such a deep chord with me. Around the time when Jack escapes and jumps out of the truck I started having a panic attack and was shaking for the rest of the film. One of the best scenes is when Joy is arguing with her mother that she doesn't understand what she went through being locked up for all those years. And she's right, no one really understands. The only one's who really could relate the most are those who have gone through similar experiences. Because when you're abused, you're trapped in a room, the one of the abuser's making. Whether it be physical, mental, verbal, emotional, or any combination of the four, you are trapped in the room. It's not till one day when something clicks, and then you realize that you need to break free from the room.
One scene that really got my blood boiling was when the interviewer asked Joy why didn't she make the ultimate sacrifice and send Jack away when he was born. But that interviewer was wrong, Joy did make the ultimate sacrifice. When she and Jack were planning the escape, he asked his Ma if she was going to be coming with him. Her response,
from the look in her eyes, the expression on her face, the tone of her voice, she knew that she may not be able to. She may never be able to ever leave the room, or even worse. But she knows that this is Jack's chance to get the life he deserves, so she decided to give up a chance for herself so that her son can live free. That, is the ultimate sacrifice.
End of trauma discussion.
This film is so powerful, so poignant, that everybody should watch it. The story of trauma is one that isn't often explored in film and needs to be discussed more. Mental illness is something that is very real and not just in someone's head. I think Hollywood has made some small steps, but bigger ones need to be taken. The Room is a great start and I hope we get to see even more films like this in the future.