Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, Room is the story of a young woman and her son. The young woman, Joy, or Ma (Brie Larson), was kidnapped when she was seventeen. Her captor, she only knows as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), locked her in a shed in his backyard. After two years trapped there, she gave birth to a boy, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). She raises Jack, in their tiny world, known as Room, keeping Old Nick away from him. After Jack turns five years old, she tells him more about the real world and they escape. Both Joy and Jack have trouble adjusting to the world.
Considering their circumstances, Joy is a very good mother to Jack. She is very patient with him, answers his questions in an age appropriate way, makes sure he gets enough exercise despite the lack of space and teaches even him to read. I can hardly stand being cooped up on my house with my toddler son all day, much less a tiny room for five years. I may use Joy’s track practice technique one day when my kid needs to get some energy out.
The pivotal escape scene had me on the edge of my seat and my heart honestly pounding with fear. Joy concocts a plan where Jack, wrapped in a rug, is taken out of the room by Old Nick, who thinks he is dead. Just as Joy tells Jack, he is put in the back of a pickup truck. He unrolls himself and is supposed to jump out when the truck stops. But with a whole strange new world around him, it is hard for Jack to stick to the plan. The poor boy is so overwhelmed he is in shock before he can even call for help.
When Joy and Jack are safe and back at Joy’s old home, things are not as perfect as Joy had hoped. The whole world has moved on without her. Her parents have split up. Her father, while obviously happy to see her, is no help when it comes to helping her move on. The media is outside the house, like vultures, just hoping to get a shot of Joy and her son. And the interview she does give makes her question the most important decision she made while captive and it pushes her to the edge.
Jack is an amazing little boy. The film gives us more of his perspective than Joy’s, because adults already know what Joy is thinking. Room is the only home Jack knows, beyond it is a mystery his mother has only begun to tell him about. When he is out, everything is overwhelming, the only piece of his home left for him is his mother. However, it is remarkable how well he adjusts. And as just a little boy, he understands how his mother needs him too. When he wants to give her “his strength,” I cried and hoped that my son would grow to be so strong and resilient.
Brie Larson is nominated for best actress for portraying Joy. She is a remarkable anchor in this film, grounding us in the grim reality she has lived through. Best of all Larson works so well with her young co-star Jacob Tremblay. He should be honored for his role as well. Without him being so convincing, the whole scenario would fall apart. And many times, the film is seen through Jack’s perspective, he even narrates at times.
Room is nominated for a total of four Academy Awards, including Larson’s nomination. The film is also nominated for best adapted screenplay, best picture and Lenny Abrahamson is nominated as best director. Though I believe he is a long shot, I would love to see Abrahamson take the Oscar.
Honestly, this is the film the year that I felt most connected to. It is raw, beautiful and powerful with amazing performances from the whole cast. Emotionally, it wrecked me. I sat in my car, locked the doors and cried in the theater parking lot after it was over. Before I was seven years old, my parents instilled in me a fear of being kidnapped. They dropped me off at college with pepper spray and told me not to go anywhere alone. Standing less than five feet tall, I know I’m easy prey creeps like Old Nick. Room plays out the aftermath of my worst fears, yet builds me up, knowing my son is my saving grace. Just as Jack is to Joy, with him, I can get through anything.
“Once upon a time, before I came, you cried and cried and watched TV all day, until you were a zombie. But then I zoomed down from Heaven, through skylight, into Room. And I was kicking you from the inside. Boom boom! And then I shot out onto Rug with my eyes wide open, and you cut the cord and said, “Hello Jack!””