Alex’s Rating: 5/5
Few movies have left such an emotional impact as Room. It is heart-wrenching, beautiful, optimistic and devoid of hope all at the same time. It is a rare breed of film hardly seen in mainstream cinema and evokes a response that is unlike anything else seen this year.
Following the story of a woman, Joy, and her five-year-old son Jack, who have been held captive for seven years in a locked shed, the story does not seem to have much room for hope and freedom. The film, however, displays the strength of human will, the willingness to survive, and the innocence of childhood. This film is clearly not for everyone, as there were multiple scenes that will leave audiences in tears. The story, which is loosely based on the true story of women being held captive in Ohio, walks the fine line of blending the horror of the situation with the triumph of the human spirit.
This film is driven by the Oscar-worthy performances of the two leads, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. With the film focused on their relationship, both actors showcase their talents in the best-acted film of the year. The movie wouldn’t work if these two characters weren’t believable. Brie Larson shines in her role as Joy, where she tries to both protect and educate her so about the world he has never seen. With only a few creatures, a television, and a skylight as a guide, she teaches him about the “outer space” that surrounds their cell. The maternal instinct and drive to seek a life for her son outside the box is evident in every scene. Tremblay does a remarkable job acting as a counter-balance to Larson. With rare skill, he is able to hold his own in each scene and display the sense of wonder that surrounds Jack.
The cinematography helps to portray the stark contrast between the world inside and outside the room. The film manages to make the confines feel spacious as well as tiny, depending on the scene. Jack’s sense of surroundings is captured eloquently as each small piece of furniture acts as a separate realm for his young mind to explore. It also manages to capture the wonder that he faces once he escapes the room. The blinding light of the sun, the vibrancy of the world, as well as the diversity of colours and creatures all become part of an overwhelming experience for both the character and audience.
The writing is phenomenal, with many themes and interactions feeling wholly realistic. The interaction between Joy and her father, played by William H. Macy, is a dynamic that is not often seen in films like this. The relationship is put on full display as Macy’s character cannot bear to even look at his grandson, as he sees the face of the captor and not his daughter’s child. The story also explores how life after captivity can be far more difficult than the life inside the room. There is a moment where Joy goes through her old photos and upon seeing a group shot of her friends, realizes that the chance encounter with her captor could have happened to any of them. The writing brings the audiences into the story, making them active participants in the lives of Joy and Jack.
The role of the audience is blurred as you will find yourself pulled into the story, feeling the same emotions as the characters. The dread of hearing the metallic clangs signalling the captor, Old Nick, is coming, will send shivers down the spine. As a result of the deep emotional connection that is created with the characters, you will actively cheer and root for their escape, trying to help Jack every step of the way.
This is hands-down the best movie of the year. No other film has the ability to cause such an emotional impact that will linger days later. The ability to mix the dread and the jubilation of freedom is truly special. All other Best Picture nominees are just films, but Room is an experience. You will be different after seeing this film, with a greater appreciation for the little things in life that surrounds us every day. There is only one film that needs to be seen this year, and this is it.