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Room (Brie Larson) - DVD Review

Room

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LENNY Abrahamson’s Room is an incredible film in so many ways.

In part, a horrific tale inspired by some truly terrifying headlines, it’s also a heartfelt mother-son relationship drama that genuinely touches the heart. Hence, while certainly not easy to watch given its proximity to real events such as Austria’s Elizabeth Fritzl case [of 2008], it does provide an emotional connection that is difficult to shake off.

The story follows a young woman, Ma (Brie Larson), and her young son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), as they are forced to live in a tiny room. The woman, we learn, has been abducted seven years earlier, while her son has recently turned five.

The boy, for his part, understands very little about the circumstances of his existence. Rather, thanks to his mum, his world is Room and she shields him from the inherent horrors that occur on an almost nightly basis. But the mum yearns for escape, if not for herself then at least for her son. So, when an opportunity presents itself..

In the wrong hands, Abrahamson’s film – adapted from her own book by Emma Donoghue – could so easily have become a nightmarish journey that felt lurid, exploitative and unnecessary.

Yet thanks to the sensitivity of both the screenplay and the direction – which doesn’t make the horror voyeuristic – the resulting film is a thought-provoking examination of the emotional cost of abduction and abuse in which the relationship between a mother and her son takes centre stage.

The first half of the film is incredibly claustrophobic, though, juxtaposing the tender – but sometimes strained – relationship between the two central players with the fear of what might occur next… or even what might be seen either by Jack or by the viewer. Matters then become unbearably tense as Ma puts into play her plan for escape.

Thereafter, Abrahamson’s film is concerned with the emotional consequence of the abduction, which further incorporates Ma’s parents, now separated (and played by William H Macy and Joan Allen), as well as the media’s reaction. And it’s here that things begin to unravel.

Yet no matter what kind of turn the story takes, Abrahamson maintains both a tight grip on our attention and a sensitive overview of proceedings, thereby allowing his actors the chance to shine.

Larson, in particular, fully earns her Oscar win as best actress, imbuing her character with layer upon layer of complexity. She takes us through a range of emotions – from loving mum to angry survivor via guilt, resentment and confusion – without ever feeling like she’s showboating.

But Tremblay is great, too, handling the sometimes difficult material with ease and maintaining a hard-earned childlike innocence throughout, albeit one that comes complete with the ability to throw a tantrum inherent in every child of his age… in heightened circumstances.

Hence, as challenging as the issues surrounding Room undoubtedly remain, it’s the performances you remember the most, making this very much a human tale. And that’s an impressive achievement that should only elevate the film higher in your esteem.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 58mins
UK Blu-Ray & DVD Release: May 9, 2016