Review: 'Room' Blurs the Line Between Imagination and Reality

James Canellos ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in Room. Photo Credit: A24
Being confined to a ten-by-ten foot space should be anything but comforting. With the freedom of your imagination though, those four walls can be something pleasant and at times beautiful. Creating beauty out of something so dark and haunting is exactly what Lenny Abrahamson does in his adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel and now screenplay.
The titular “Room” is the shed that kidnapped Joy (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) have been confined to. Joy has been able to manage with her limited amount of resources that are provided by their abusive captor Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). For Jack’s own good Joy has kept their confinement a secret and has made him believe that Room is the only place on Earth. One of the lighter moments of the film has Joy explaining a world beyond Room for the first time. After escaping from Old Nick, the mother and son must adjust to the actual world. One that Joy has longed for and that Jack never knew existed.
Like the novel it is based off of, Room is told through Jack’s point of view and because of this allows a sense of innocence to linger throughout each scene. The desperation that sags down Joys face is always replaced with hope as she embraces Jack’s creativity. As Jack and Joy try living in the real world with Joy’s mother, (Joan Allen) everything that they held onto in Room becomes less significant. With the media and lawyers swarming them like locus, the solitary of Room seems more like a safe haven.
Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in Room. Photo Credit: A24
As the mother and son duo needed each other to stay afloat, Room would remain a dark shell of a story without the dynamic chemistry between Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Larson who gave a remarkable performance in 2013’s Short Term 12 has outdone herself as she’s thrown through a rabbit hole of despair. Coping with trauma is a task that no actor can take lightly but Larson’s spellbinding performance doesn’t shy away from the long road to recovery. There is no amount of imagination that can replace the pain she’s endured, the only one who is able to help her through this ordeal is Jack. Tremblay is just as amazing, never missing a beat of what must be going through Jack’s mind as he sees the world for the first time.
Abrahamson treads carefully in the delicate material along with Donoghue’s excellent script they manage to find humor in her adaptation. With Room moving from one tense scene to the next it begins to feel more claustrophobic even after Joy and Jack exit Room. The pairing of Tremblay and Larson make even the tightest spaces feel like a mansion of wonderful screen time. Despite the dark themes of abuse and readjustment Room offers an optimistic perspective on recovering from trauma.
Overall Grade: A 
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