Room ★★★★

4-out-of-4: I'm impressed.

Room is an emotional, A24 drama. It tells the story of Jacob Tremblay and his mother, Brie Larson. Before I start... I avoid talking about the later portions of movies, but this is really a story in two parts and I feel I have to at least reference the second half. This is your spoiler warning!

Although the movie doesn't show it, we learn through narration that Larson, at 17, was kidnapped by Sean Bridgers, held against her will in his garden shed -- secured with a heavy-duty door, no windows, and soundproofed walls. She's repeatedly raped and eventually impregnated. When the movie starts, her son Tremblay is 4, nearly 5, and knows only the experience of living in this small room, trapped with "Ma."

I think I have seen at least a few similar setups, but a few things make this movie stand out: it's focused on the perspective of Tremblay, it's interested in how someone can grow up in that kind of limited, controlling environment and then escape from captivity, and the horror elements are largely absent (as a result of being filtered through the kid's experience where this is normal, everyday life). In a way, it made me think of the Allegory of the Cave.

I thought both Tremblay and Larson's performances were strong, and I liked how "Room," one of the many generic names Tremblay gives to personify his environment, was designed. One memorable moment I liked was when Tremblay re-visits Room later on and doesn't see it the same. He can finally see it for what it really is, not what he needs it to be. In that way, it kind of reminds me of Tideland, another movie about a kid dealing with trauama that I really enjoyed.

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