Saturday, January 23, 2016


Plot: Joy (Brie Larson) has been imprisoned by a sexual pervert, and lives in a small "Room" with with her five year old boy, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), fathered by the pervert. After years of nightly rape, Joy struggles to raise Jack as best she can although he has lived his whole life in the room. After a plot twist, Joy and Jack come to grips with their lengthy abuse.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Room is an expression of suffering, and in seeing the suffering we also see what is essential to people. Room is tightly crafted to let us meet these damaged people. The story, the visuals, for example the view out of the skylight, combine seamlessly to help us understand Joy's experience. While the story focuses on the positive adaptations to imprisonment, the violence and depravity is always underneath: I left the movie thoughtful and a little down.

[SPOILER in these two paragraphs only]  In the second act, Joy and Jack plot a tension-filled escape attempt. The whole time I am thinking this will never work, and hoping that it does. Finally Jack is out, but he has never been outside before, and how can he help the police find Joy? I loved the scene with the police woman in the car: so clever, so compassionate. When Joy is outside, there is happiness as she sees her parents, but now they are divorced, and soon we see brave Joy has post-traumatic stress symptoms. A whole second story of recovery begins; one that is just as emotional and painful.]

Room is a fictionalized version of the Jaycee Lee Dugard story ( She was abducted as a teen, and was imprisoned for years.  By fictionalizing the story, the writer Donoghue could remove the weirdness of Dugard's kidnapper, skip the critique of the parole system, and add the Hollywood escape scene. Dugard's story is even more wretching though less cinematic.

[End Spoiler]

Brie Larson and the child actor, Jacob Tremblay are both excellent. When a young child actor is good, usually it means the director is outstanding, so kudos to Lenny Abrahamson.

Now I have seen all the Oscar best picture movies. This one belongs in there because of its emotional intensity and because of its craftmanship. 

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen

Directed by:
Lenny Abrahamson

Written by:
Emma Donoghue who also wrote the novel.

The Music:
NO MUSIC. The quietness is part of the movie.

The Visuals:
 Lot of thought went into the set and props. This is a well constructed movie. Obviously there are not breath-taking vistas. There are many clever scenes of people doing things.  

3.5 stars: An intense story that is well-told. 

More: Joy: You're gonna love it. 
            Jack: What? 
            Joy: The world. 

Even More: Room is emotional, and it is staying with me as I write this the next day.




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