This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Kurt Fabisch’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
♫ One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning... ♫
Brie Larson’s character sings ^that song at one point and I just started crying. This is 10 minutes into the movie, so I knew it was gonna be a ROUGH ride. :)
Room is based on the book by Emma Donaghue which is based on the grisly true story of Elisabeth Fritzl in Austria who was held captive by her father for 24 years and gave birth to his children. This story isn’t quite as horrific as that... it’s sort of a toned down version of that story, but it’s still very disturbing if you think about it too hard.
Brie Larson is Joy, who’s been locked in a garden shed by her captor for 7 years now as his sex slave. They had a child, Jack, who is now 5 years old. They have basic utilities, water, power, TV, a small skylight and their captor makes regular visits with deliveries of food and supplies...... and to do what he has her locked in a shed for.
*BASIC PLOT SPOILER ALERT* This is in all the trailers, even some of the posters give it away, but if you haven’t seen those and want to stay fresh, stop reading.
The first half of this movie is set in that garden shed and the second half is out of it.
The entire movie is told from the POV of Jack, played memorably by Jacob Tremblay. While the movie is very original and difficult to compare with other films, I DID think of Life is Beautiful or To Kill a Mockingbird in that we have a very grand story told through the eyes of a child that might fully comprehend it all.
Jacob Tremblay hopefully has a long and storied acting career ahead of him. Why he wasn’t nominated for Best Actor as the Oscars this year is a horrid mystery. When they talk about the great child performances in film, Tremblay needs to be near the top of the list for his work in this movie.
It’s all about Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay when talking about how great this movie is, their performances and their characters and their tremendous chemistry as Joy and Jack.
The movie is told through Jack’s eyes but it’s about Joy. Brie Larson, my god...
She’s a favorite actress of mind from such films as Scott Pilgrim VS The World and the MASSIVELY UNDERRATED Short Term 12, which should have gotten her an Oscar. She’s almost certainly going to win an Oscar for Room and I don’t think anyone who sees this movie would argue that she deserves it.
Much like in Life is Beautiful Joy is trying extremely hard to keep the darkness of their situation from her son. Telling him that the shed or
Room as they call it is the whole world. It’s both a very sad but effective way of keeping the child from thinking there’s more to the world than that shed... he has to think that or the child would go insane realizing that there are no plans for them to ever leave that shed.
Since it’s through the child’s eyes, the movie takes on an almost fairy tale feeling. This actually makes the story more palatable because when you really break down what’s going on from Joy’s perspective, this is a hell no human being deserves to endure. Because this is a woman who was taken in her late teens, in the prime of her life...... and had everything taken from her in an instant. And what’s worse is this shed is probably 20 feet from any number of people who’d be able to rescue her... but there’s no way to let the outside world know she’s there. It’s horrific. But through the eyes of a child who doesn’t know all that, it’s a little easier to stomach.... but not by much.
The way the movie opens I was reminded by a VERY different movie, Gangs of New York. But that movie opened in a cave with a bunch of guys with clubs, knives and Irish accents.... and if you didn’t know what movie you were watching you wouldn’t know where you are. Same sort of thing in Room. Like the kid, you don’t know where you are or what year it is. Are we in nuclear fallout? Is this a bomb shelter? Are they being kept safe from the outside world? A kid with a vivid imagination like Jack could and does have any number of ideas about where he is. It’s a pretty great way to tell a story like this.
The shift between acts in this movie is remarkable. We grow so accustomed to this shed, however small it is that when we do get outside it might as well be another galaxy. Lenny Abrahamson directed the film and I hope that guy has another 20 films left in him after this movie. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the sky quite like it is in this movie. It’s so beautiful how the first half we see it through a tiny window in the ceiling and how it fills the frame later, again.... it’s like I’ve never seen the sky in a movie before.
There’s so much TO give away in the second half but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. I’ll say there is one scene where we are waiting in a car for one character to arrive. Probably only a minute but it’s the most excruciating minute of the movie. Because if they don’t show up they could be dead, missing, there’s no way to know.
The 2nd half deals with the insanely difficult adjustment period to the real world for both Jack and Joy and it’s hard for both of them, not to mention their relatives, who are wonderfully played by William H Macy (who doesn’t get enough work), Joan Allen and Tom McCamus. McCamus is a Canadian actor I’d never seen before who I thought was just terrific. So rare to see a NICE stepfather character in movies, it seems.
But the movie does a great job wondering just how DO 2 people suddenly re-enter the real world after an ordeal like that. Can they adjust at all? What kind of scars do they carry? Etc. No matter your age or gender you will wonder how you’d act in that scenario. If you’d make it or not.
I don't think I've ever felt like this after watching a movie before.... ever.
As much as it's a heartwarming movie about family and the human spirit where I had tears of joy at times.... it also makes you realize we live in a disgusting @#$%ed up world where things happen that you couldn't conjure up in your worst nightmares..... especially when you consider the true story the book is based on.
When it was over I was both happy... and sick to my stomach over what I saw. So it’s not exactly a feel good movie, is what I’m driving at. :) Just know that going in.
Room is an outstanding film unlike any I’ve seen. It left me in such a state... I was so shaken by this movie. Left with SO much to process afterward. I wanted a hug, to cry, to throw up... so many emotions.
Only thing I DIDN’T feel was a desire to watch the movie again right away. :) It’s a masterpiece but.... I’m gonna need some time to get this movie out of my system before seeing it again.
It’s not going to be pleasant.... but you really need to see Room.