Every review for last year’s critically lauded film Room needs to start like this: Go watch Room, now! If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this review before I ruin it for you, don’t scroll down to see the review score and then not watch the film, don’t confuse it with Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece The Room, don’t look at anything about the film, just watch it! I went into Room only hearing about how good it was and nothing more, this was the best way to experience the assortment of skill, craft and surprise in Room‘s narrative that would have been ruined by foreknowledge from a review or even a trailer.

Brie Larson and Jack Tremblay

It all starts in the room, our entry into the story and indeed Jack’s birth and entire life up to this point at age 5. Jack and his mother Joy, or simply “Ma”, seem to be happy together, playing together, cooking, watching television, but something is off. All the utilities seem to be directly connected together, stove, toilet, bathtub. The door has a keypad? There’s a single window, on the ceiling, surrounded by sound proofing material. The opening to Room is a ploy, convincing you this is an ordinary situation, when in fact things are completely the opposite and where it goes from there is more surprising.

This pair will leave the room, but the room has changed Joy and the outer world is warping Jack’s sense of reality. He has known only of one place his whole life, to have his eyes suddenly open to reality, to meet other people is increasingly difficult for him. The truly special thing about Room is how it subverts expectations in order to deal with a personal story.

Jacob Tremblay

The audience feel Jack’s perspective. Joy is equally an important character, but Jack is the visor we look into, trying to understand him. They way he talks about his ‘room’ like a fairy tale myth, where all his friends are the chair he sits on, or the wardrobe that holds his clothes. To the camerawork that’s shot from a low angle, always moving to show the focus of what he’s looking at, or evading his glance from. The astonishment on his face when he sees the world he’s missed out on, is an exhilarating moment, and Room has so many of these moments.

Room is an excellent character study, the kind of film that makes small steps feel big, just like the “Room”. Brie Larson deserved her Oscar, her and Jacob Tremblay make their characters real, you don’t see the actors, you see the characters and what they go through! No emotion is hackneyed, the direction, to the music and cinematography, combined with the on-screen performances all act in unison to create exciting, understated drama completely suitable to Room‘s deeply moving story.

5/5

Dir: Lenny Abrahamson
Scr: Emma Donoghue
Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus, Cas Anvar, Wendy Crewson, Randal Edwards
Prd: Jeff Arkuss, Rose Garnett
DOP: Danny Cohen
Music: Stephen Rennicks
Country: Canada/Ireland
Year: 2016
Runtime: 118 mins

Room is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital now.