Room (2016)

There are potential spoilers in this review, however, I thoroughly recommend seeing this film before reading any reviews (and trying to watch any clips from it)

Over the last twelve months at the cinema I have seen the most entertaining piece of cinema in Mad Max: Fury Road, a nostalgic trip back to a galaxy far, far away and probably my favourite film of the past twelve months in Ex Machina. Now onto Room. Which instantly goes up there in being the most intense film I have ever seen.

The simple premise is daunting enough for any filmmaker to take on, but Lenny Abrahamson took the premise head on and created an intense but surprisingly uplifting and spirited triumph of the human character. Ma and Jack (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, respectively) live in Room, a confined space including a bed, wardrobe, a bath and a small kitchen.

Lenny Abrahamson during the filming of Room maintained a claustrophobic feel but found ways to view Room making to seem bigger than it is. This claustrophobic feeling is washed away when you watch Ma and Jack’s relationship unfold on screen in the flurry of emotions they convey. Ma is pushed to the edge at times in the confined space when Jack goes through the motions of a spoilt child that can’t get his own way.

Initially I avoided everything about this film to try and keep in the dark as it were, in case of spoilers, and I thought it was great way to approach the film due to the story. I later learned that this film was adapted from a book and initially thought this film was going to be confined to Room, however to my surprise they do escape and there are events after Room. I think instead of focusing on their confinement to Room and Ma’s abductor, they focus on the relationships throughout the film and believed this was very effective throughout the film.

Seen through the eyes of five year-old Jack, he struggles to grasp the concept of what’s real and what he considers ‘magic’, amplified when he believes Old Nick gets the Sunday treats through magic like the tv. Naturally the story is heartbreakingly daunting, but the spirited acting from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay and Abrahamson’s superb direction keeps the film at a great pace and the viewer clinging on to the relationships on the screen.

Although Ma and Jack’s relationship dominates the film, Jack as a character grows as he becomes exposed to the outside world, his character becomes an intriguing watch. Also Ma’s increasing frustration with Jack as he won’t connect with the toys or other people, which causes tensions within the household, makes the film at times a increasingly difficult watch as they both try to adapt to life in the outside world.

Throughout the film, I genuinely seemed to care for these characters and their situation, and I’ve never felt so uplifted and genuinely happy for characters in a film unlike when Ma is reunited with the incredibly brave Jack. This is helped by the genuine connection that Ma and Jack have and it resonates through the screen.

Truthfully, this film, simply put, is a character driven film but the way Abrahamson kept it ‘fresh’ and kept myself engrossed in the story over the two hours running time was truly outstanding. Of course, the daunting subject of the story is always going to be focus going into the film, but not the focus leaving the film. Abrahamson handled the matter fantastically and certainly after his last film Frank I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on his work in the forthcoming years.

I thought Brie Larson is deserved for his Oscar nomination and of course the Oscar nomination for best film is truly deserved. As I’ve mentioned countless times this films true triumph is the characters in the film. But the story and some lasting great shots really makes the film fantastic.

9/10

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