Room ★★★½

There's a scene just before what is probably the most pivotal scene Room, where Brie Larson sits in the room and thinks what she has to do, and when she realizes it, her face crumbles. She holds her hand to her mouth so she doesn't scream out loud at the horror of the idea. It's not a long moment, but since I saw the movie a few days ago it is a moment that has really stuck with me. It's a quiet scene, with hardly a sound being made, but emotionally it's one of the loudest of the film. I can still feel its impact reverberating inside my head. And my gut.

What follows is the scene of escape. But more on that in a bit.

The first act of the film is so intense, so tied to a small space, the level of discomfort it filled me with had me standing up and walking around my house. I'm like that when I'm watching something that makes me emotionally uncomfortable, which Room surely did. The first 30 minutes set off all sorts of alarms. I suffer from anxiety and often get claustrophobic. Movies that I think will exacerbate these feelings aren't usually on the top of my viewing list. Room surely wasn't. But as painful as the first part of the film was for me to watch, it was also the most impressive. The movie had me. It was holding on to me, possibly a little too tight. By the time Larson is silently screaming to herself I thought I can't handle this anymore.

Honestly, I was ready to turn the film off.

But then came the escape. And while I've read some criticism regarding the director's choice in how this segment is filmed and how the world is revealed to young Jack, and while I can understand some of the criticism, I have to say that for me, a viewer who was losing more air with each passing scene, the escape is an amazingly effective moment. Perhaps the visual options were not the most original, nor where they shot the most interestingly. But it didn't diminish the desperation in Jack to get away, nor the desperation in me that he succeed.

And then there was the music. In a movie where the soundtrack is basically all score, the one song choice that wasn't is an incredibly right one. It's a slow building instrumental song by This Might Destroy You. As Jack's chance for escape comes the song ('The Mighty Rio Grande') peaks. And regardless of the film's faults after this (the emotional power of the last half paled when compared to the first -- still great acting though), and regardless of the faults in the execution of this sequence (yes, blue sky is a tad on the nose), the music and everything leading up to the escape has created a true movie moment for me. One that is also still reverberating in my head and gut. And only now, days later, can I write about it without feeling short of breath, without feeling compelled to leave my house and stand in the open air and be thankful for the cold wind and warm sun in a space outside in the world.

And on another personal note, I've been to the burger joint they go to near the end of the film. They have killer onion rings.

Chris liked these reviews