The simplest movies have often been the best. Discarding the ‘blockbuster mentality’ of Hollywood, films thinking outside the square are usually the most memorable. ‘Room’ literally tries to do just that. With its protagonists locked in a square room, their way out of it and consequent dealing with the outside world offers compelling viewing. Free of the bells and whistles of big-budgeted productions, ‘Room’ provides an interesting look at humanity in ways not often seen.
Ma (Brie Larson) and her young son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) live in a small windowless room. Held captive by Old Nick (Sean Bridges) for seven years, Ma’s resilience at being repeatedly abused by Nick is at breaking point. With Jack having been born during captivity, Ma determines to escape and finally show Jack the real world. Hatching a plan to escape, what follows changes their world forever.
‘Room’ is a film of two parts. Initially an escape story, ‘Room’ morphs into a striking tale of discovery. Their re-adjustment from enclosed world to an open one provides fascinating viewing. Forced for so long to cope in a confined space, their ability to handle a newish world tests their confidence. This is especially seen through Jack as he learns to communicate with others and expand his horizons. Whilst the earlier section within the room is well handled, ‘Room’ effectively comes into its own once they come out of it.
None of this would work without the fine performances. Tremblay and Larson make their roles believable with authentic reactions to ordinary situations. You feel their character’s trepidation as they walk among others for the first time in years. The low-key direction and moody photography ensure the story’s aim for realism works. This makes it easier to invest in what we see with Ma’s and Jack’s emotional reactions often genuinely moving.
One can’t find a simpler concept than ‘Room’ but it’s one that succeeds. The way it examines the human condition is fairly original and one to be grateful for in an increasing age of celluloid familiarity.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 8
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.
Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue