Directed By: Brad Bird
Written By: Emma Donoghue
Starring: Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay
Room tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who since the day he was born has never left Room. Room, and everything inside of it, is all he knows of the world. He does not know that he and his mom are actually being held captive in a shed or even that other people exist. That is until his Ma (Brie Larson) shatters his only reality and tells him that there IS a world outside of Room and devises a plan to escape.
I was very nervous about seeing Room for a few reasons. How do you adapt a book about the horror of a mother and son being held captive in a shed, told through the eyes of a five-year-old, into a powerful, yet heartwarming motion picture? How do you ask a young child to play the role of Jack, a boy who goes from only knowing one room his whole life to being introduced to the entire world? The answer is you have Emma Donoghue write the script and Lenny Abrahamson to direct the film and finally bring in Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay to play Ma and Jack respectively.
I am always worried about seeing a movie that centers around a young kid because, let’s be honest, quality child actors are few and far between. But wow, did Jacob Tremblay utterly amaze me. There was not a single point in the movie that Jack annoyed me in a way that was not intended. His amazement when he sees the sky for the first time, the wonder in his eye, the surprise on his mouth, is so raw, honest and perfect. Throughout the movie his anger, his fear, his bewilderment, his joy are all believable. And then there is the chemistry between Jacob and Brie as Jack and Ma which was just out of this world.
The movie also does a great job of portraying Ma’s emotions and thoughts, which is not present in the book due to Jack being the narrator. In the book Jack often overlooks Ma’s reactions or misses the pain that she is hiding because he is five. Watching Ma’s facial expressions when her back is turned to Jack gives the film another dimension. It allows the viewer to be captivated by the naivete of Jack’s love of Room while also experiencing the fear that Ma tries to hide about being in Room.
There were only a few aspect that I found disappointing in the film adaptation of Room. The first is with the downplaying of Ma breastfeeding Jack, a five year old who by societal norms is way past breastfeeding age. In the book, Jack’s breastfeeding was a physical representation of the bond between the two. When Jack was worried or scared, or needed to be comforted, he asked for “some”. When the pair entered the world, people were aghast and appalled that Ma would still breastfeed a five year old (if you do a quick search, you would find that many readers share in this disgust). In the movie, Ma is only shown breastfeeding Jack once while in Room. The next time breastfeeding is brought up is when they are in the real world and Ma tells Jack that her milk has dried, so he can’t have any. That is it. If they were not going to actually give this plot point its due, they should have just scraped it all together. My only other criticism is that i felt that second half of the movie was rushed. I would have liked to see more scenes of the process of Jack adjusting to this new world, and learning how to navigate it.
Despite my very few qualms, this movie delivers on every level.