You have to wonder whether Emma Donoghue took inspiration from Josef Fritzel when writing her novel because there are certainly some parallels.
OK, inspiration might be the wrong word because the only thing that Fritzel is really inspiring is the invention of a cannon that fires people directly into the sun.
It’s safe to say that this is a pretty grim tale of kidnapping, rape, neglect and physical abuse yet it somehow manages precariously balance itself somewhere in between a hope that is brushed with childish naivety and the harrowing emotional complexity which comes with this level of abuse.
Room manages to do this by telling the majority of the tale from the view of Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who was born and raised in ‘room’ so doesn’t understand that things on the TV are real because all he knows is bed and cupbaord and mum. These are all real to him.
Jack also doesn’t understand that he is the is the result of a horrific act but then he doesn’t need to because there are pictures to draw and cakes to bake. This is his mothers burden to bear for now.
I think it’s criminal that Jacob Tremblay wasn’t nominated for best supporting actor because his performance is astounding. He manages to perfectly capture the innocence of youth whilst showing an emerging frustration with the confines of his room and his own understanding of the world.
Of course, not all credit can go to Tremblay when the screenplay is an achievement in itself. There is a range of complex emotions and scenarios that is either laid bare on screen or planted in your mind.
How does a kid cope with seeing the world after only knowing a single room? What happens when he finds out who his dad is? How do you deal with the trauma and how do you go about your life if you are Ma (Brie Larson).
Speaking of which, Larson also puts in a fantastic and complex performance and has been rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her role as Ma.
The film isn’t all roses though, you know… excluding the whole rape and abuse and kidnapping thing. There are a few areas where the film falls flat. The first of them being nasty Nick.
Now, anyone who remembers the UK’s first Big Brother will remember Nasty Nick but compare his nastiness (he tried to convince people to vote tactically) to Room’s Nick (he imprisoned and raped a woman for years) and Big Brother’s Nick suddenly seems like someone you’d want to marry your mum.
But the performance of Nick in the Room didn’t quite come across as menacing or as disgusting as it probably should have done.
Still, at some point, Ma and Jack manage to escape room in a scene that needed to be at least 15 minutes longer than it was. It only takes 5 minutes from initial escape to the police tracing the room.
It’s as stupid as: “Help, I was being held in a shed”, “A shed? Cool… I know where that is. Let’s go boy!” but it’s the ending that proves to be the biggest problem.
You don’t leave the cinema angry enough to punch the spotty cinema attendant, you’re not happy enough to kiss the person next to you and you’re not pumped enough to smash a litre of red bull and do a triathlon because the film ends on a relative low when compared to the emotional highs throughout the rest of the film.
Whilst the ending does just… sort of… end, it’s not necessarily bad and certainly isn’t to the detriment of the performances and quality of script. The highlight is Jacob Termblay as Jack and the little moments of happiness he clings on to make this film touching and emotional leaving not a single dry eye in the room.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Portrayal of innocence of youth
+ Complex emotional issues dealt with
– The escape
– Nasty Nick
– Flat ending