Film Review: Imdbinge - Room (2015)

Film Review: Imdbinge - Room (2015)

Catherine's 2016 Challenge - watch all 250 of IMDb's top rated films. Today she reviews the 2015 film, Room, for which Brie Larson won Best Actress Oscar for her outstanding performance. Now currently no. 124 on the list. Content warning: rape and abduction.

I feel as though it would be boring and imprudent to attempt to talk about this film almost six months after its UK release without revealing a few spoilers, so I’ll warn you now: this review contains a few spoilers. Now, that’s out of the way...

Room is conservatively described by the IMDb as a film in which ‘a boy is raised in the confines of a shed’. As we watch, it is slowly revealed that Joy (Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are confined to this room by Joy’s abductor, referred to as Old Nick. Jack is turning five and it becomes clear not only that he has never been outside of the room but that he was born there, a tragic gift that transpires as the result of Old Nick raping Joy. Their life within the room consists of a cacophony of fairy tales designed to help Jack understand the situation they are in, until one day hope overcomes fear and Joy decides to tell him about the outside world.

What was interesting about this film was the more pyramid-like curve of conflict in the story than the normal three-act narrative structure, which often sees the highest peak of the action closer to the end. The biggest and most climatic moments happen just before and during the very midpoint of the film – their escape. This leaves plenty of time in the first half to convey the horror of living in such confinement and time in the second half to show how difficult it is to readjust after such a horrific experience. The escape itself is one of the most tense and emotionally terrifying sequences I have seen in a long time. We underestimate just how powerful the hope of freedom is when threatened by the possibility that it won’t come, particularly when it concerns such an innocent and helpless party.

Like a number of other abduction stories, this one raises an incredibly difficult and poignant question: even if one survives abduction, is it ever possible to truly heal and come back from one’s trauma? Over this side of the pond, the BBC recently produced a miniseries called ‘Thirteen’ which addresses a similar predicament, though incidentally, no one in Britain has ever escaped abduction, as is pointed out at the start of the series. Luckily, this film keeps us hopeful that it is possible, although it does not shy away from how fraught relationships can become under such intense pressure for things to be normal, when they are clearly not. Generally this film is incredibly well put together with an Oscar-winning performance from Larson and an endearing one from her young co-star, Tremblay. A tense and emotional tale – highly recommended.

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