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Film Friday: Room

Probably one of the films of 2015 I was most curious about was Room. Based on a novel of the same name by Emma Donaghue (who also wrote the screenplay for the movie), Room has a unique concept that is difficult to imagine on screen. The result though is triumphant, a haunting but surprisingly beautiful portrait of survival, adjustment, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and son.

Room tells the fictional story of Joy “Ma” (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who after being held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, finally escape and are forced to experience and adjust to the real world they have been hidden from.

What is interesting to note is that the novel's author Emma Donaghue conceived the story after hearing about five-year-old Felix in the Fritzl case. It is crazy and heartbreaking to think about how Ma's story actually has similar counterparts in real life. Nevertheless Room is a brilliant movie about resilience and the lasting effects of pain that continue even after struggles are overcome. The characters in the film are real and raw, ultimately human. The pain is palpable. The strength is inspiring.

The performances in Room are really what kept the film up. Brie Larson was fantastic as she navigated such a fragile yet strong character with great ability. Her acting prowess is powerful in the film and I do believe she truly deserved her Oscar. What I liked about her character in particular is that while Joy is resilient, she is also not perfect. She has her bad days, deservedly so with the horrid situation she is in, but she also tries to be optimistic for her son. Joy strives to be a good mother and provide Jack with a complete childhood, but one must still remember her young age. Larson is able to personify all of these elements into her performance.

Now let's talk about Jacob Tremblay though. Why was he not nominated for an Oscar? His performance was so amazing in this film that it easily rivals any of those from the other nominated actors. His is young but in many ways he even outshines Brie Larson due to his incredibly natural and heart-tugging actions. Pretty much all of my favorite scenes simply had Jack being the wonderfully adorable and curious little boy he is. The chemistry between Larson and Tremblay is undeniable and their strong bond as mother and son in the film is ever present.

Probably what I liked about Room the most was not its tale of perseverance and survival, but rather the struggles to adjust to a normal life shown. The pair's escape does not lead right away to a happy ending. In fact what they must face next, the real world, is what might be the most daunting of all. The screenplay of the film was strong overall, though I feel like the relationship between Joy and her father could have been developed more. Nevertheless, I thought the film flowed nicely and I highly recommend it. Led by such strong performances, Room is the kind of film that you can not stop thinking about afterwards, at least it was for me. Room is simply beautiful.

On the Ticket Stub Love meter, I give Room 4 1/2 out of 5 ticket stubs.

[Article originally published 02/17/2017]

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