Verdict: 4 / 5
Drawing on similarities to the actual events of Jaycee Lee Dugard’s wrenching true life story, Room is a harrowing and unsettling thriller that is bound to move the coldest heart. Although the subject matter is extremely unpleasant, the film is a portrait of a mother’s love and finding hope in the direst circumstances.
Room is structured into two halves; a mother and son’s claustrophobic life inside a room where they are held captive and their life outside of the room where they struggle to adjust to freedom. Brie Larson shows amazing range as Joy, a young woman who was abducted as a teen and locked in a gardening shed. Her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), doesn’t know life outside of the shed, and Joy does everything she can to protect him from the boy’s father and captor. Despite their dreadful circumstances, their day-to-day life is filled with fantastical explanations of their small surroundings. Most of it is told from the whimsical viewpoint of a curious child who struggles to believe in anything beyond the room.
Room is incredibly well-acted and moving. Cinematographer Danny Cohen sets a restless camera at a lower angle, effectively conveying the claustrophobia and the viewpoint of the Jack. Yet, the best moments reflect the awe of the little boy seeing the world for the first time. He marvels at the open skies, a brown leaf from a tree, and the big world around him.
This is a must-see film, but it’s really not easy to watch.