“She needs my strong more than me, so I want to send it to her”Review by Lily Taylor
A quick disclaimer to let you know this is a review about the 2015 film Room starring Brie Larson, not the irrefutable, classic, 10/10 movie The Room starring Tommy Wiseau… still worth a read though I promise.
When Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) was 17 she stopped to help a man by the name of Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) look for his supposedly lost dog. Old Nick abducted Joy and kept her trapped and alone in his shed. Two years later she gives birth to his child, a boy called Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and the pair have since lived together inside the four walls they call Room for five years. The shed they live in contains the bare minimum amenities they need to survive. They share a small bed, a bath and toilet and a single skylight as their only window into the outside world. Old Nick is their only connection to outside, he provides their food and supplies and the only person who knows the code to open the steel door to Room. Joy fiercely protects Jack from Old Nick, never letting him touch her son and putting Jack to bed in the bottom of the wardrobe when Nick routinely shares her bed. To punish Joy, Nick cuts the power and leaves her and Jack freezing without heating or the ability to cook hot food. Joy admits she has tried to escape before by hitting Nick over the head with the lid of the toilet cistern but failed. She tells Jack about the world outside and comes up with a plan for Jack to escape and alert the police of their existence in Room.
The second escape plan Joy hatches is a success and her and Jack are taken to hospital by the police while Old Nick is arrested. Back in the real world Joy is reunited with her parents and she and Jack must learn to live outside of Room for the first time in his life. Their road to recovering is not easy or straightforward but they learn to adjust and adapt to what feels like another planet.
I found the storyline to be interesting and intelligent, so much is said just in the characters actions without the need for words. Brie Larson is very convincing as Joy and you can feel her desperation to escape Room and the conflicting feelings she experiences after returning home. At points Jack seems wise beyond his years despite his warped upbringing and oversimplified opinion of what constitutes the world. Although he misses Room at times it’s really quite uplifting to see him grow and form relationships with his grandparents and friends. As usual the strongest theatrical performance was from a dog by the name of Seamus, a replacement for Jack’s imaginary dog Lucky.
As with all good drama’s Room takes you through the whole spectrum of emotions and there were a couple of points where I could feel a lump in my throat. It is dynamic and layered, the fact that Jack assimilates more easily than Joy saying a lot about a child malleable nature and also the trauma that Joy has suffered over the past seven years. It emphasises the importance of the relationship between mother and son, having had only each other to rely on.
There’s a couple of things that stopped me from awarding Room a perfect score. In one scene Joy confronts her father about his inability to look at or interact with her son but her father leaves and isn’t really mentioned again. To me it felt like unfinished business and I wonder if her relationship with her fathers featured more heavily in the book but was oversimplified when converted to screenplay.