Sunday, December 06, 2015

Room (2015 film)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue that is based on her novel, Room is the story of a young woman and her son who had been captives of a man where they lived in a single room for years until their years of captivity ends where they struggle to return to society. The film explores the bond between a mother and child as they endure life in captivity where they use their imagination to not think about the severity of their situation. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy. Room is an enchanting and heartfelt film from Lenny Abrahamson.

For seven years, a young woman had been held captive inside a garden shed by a man who kidnapped her as she is raising her five-year old son where they plot to find a way to escape. It’s a film that plays into a mother and child dealing with a world that only the child knows inside this little garden shed he calls room but also wondering what is out there forcing his mother to tell him fantasies to shield him from what is really happening. Yet, the severity of their situation which includes their captor’s lack of funds and carelessness would force them to do something but the bigger challenge would come after they escape from their sheltered environment.

Emma Donoghue’s screenplay does have a unique structure where much of its first act revolves around life in this little garden shed where Joy (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) live in this world where they would eat whatever they have and live in a place where not everything is working. For Jack, it’s all he knows while Joy copes with the fact that she could only get things to her if she allows her captor to have sex with her with Jack only hearing the activity in the wardrobe. With the situation becoming dire due to the captor‘s money troubles, Joy realizes that something must be done where Jacob would have to make an escape for the both of them. Once the film moves into its second act and third act where Joy and Jack are back in the real world, the real struggle occurs as Joy is forced to deal with a world that has changed.

Even as she becomes concerned for Jack’s well-being and how he would interact with the new world as well as with people he doesn’t know like his grandparents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy). The script also delves into the aftermath of not just Jack dealing with his new surroundings but Joy succumbing into the trauma of what she had experienced under captivity. Especially with the realities of what happened to her family as her mother lives with a new boyfriend named Leo (Tom McCamus) where the two would provide a helpful platform for Jack to have a normal childhood. The film’s third act doesn’t just play more into Joy’s struggle and Jack’s slow progression into the real world but also the bond between mother and child.

Lenny Abrahamson’s direction is entrancing not just for the intimacy that he creates but also in the way he uses space and the lack of it inside this tiny shed. Abrahamson’s usage of close-ups and medium shots help play into the intimacy of the room which is a character itself with its decayed toilet, old bed, stained wardrobe, an old bathtub, and a toaster oven that doesn’t work all the time. The way Abrahamson uses close-ups for the characters don’t just play into this bond between mother and son but also in what they must endure. Even as the sound would play into the presence of their captor who is heard before he’s even seen. Once the film moves into its second act in the aftermath of the Joy and Jack’s freedom, the usage of the wide shots become prominent but there are still elements of close-ups and medium shots to play into their new surroundings. The shots of the cities and suburbs help with the sudden sense of shock the two have where it feels very otherworldly. Since the shed they live only has a window on its roof, it does come as a sense of shock once the characters be part of the world of the city and suburbia.

While Jack obviously has no idea what he’s encountering, Abrahamson does take great care into making his interaction with the new world be handled slowly. Even in a scene where he wakes up one morning where he meets with Leo who decides to playful about eating breakfast that becomes a key moment for Jack to interact with someone other than his mother. It’s among the moments that is quite touching while there is some heavy drama that relates to Joy’s own struggles to reacquaint herself with the world forcing the bond between mother and son to be more important than ever. Overall, Abrahamson creates a powerful and evocative film about a mother son and dealing with being sheltered from the world from an evil captor.

Cinematographer Danny Cohen does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography to play up the low-key lighting and intimacy for the scenes set inside the room while displaying brighter lighting schemes and textures for the interior/exterior scenes in the second and third act. Editor Nathan Nugent does amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts, slow-motion, and montage-style cuts to play into the dramatic elements of the film. Production designer Ethan Tobman, with set decorator Mary Kirkland and art director Michelle Lannon, does fantastic work with the design of the room with great attention to detail from the look of the appliances and the rug which is sharp contrast to the more spacious world where Joy used to live.

Costume designer Lea Carlson does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual from the decayed and sort of de-colored clothes that Joy and Jack wear early in the film to the newer and cleaner clothes they would wear following their escape. Visual effects supervisor Ed Bruce does terrific work with some of the minimal visual effects as it relate to a few of the exterior settings in the film including bits of the city the characters live at. Sound editor Niall Bradley and sound designer Steve Fanagan do excellent work with the sound to help create a sense of dread in scenes where Joy‘s captor starts to come in along with a few things inside the room as it plays into the tense atmosphere of where they live. The film’s music by Stephen Rennicks does wonderful work with the film’s music as it’s mostly plaintive piano pieces with elements of folk and low-key orchestral pieces that play into the drama while its music soundtrack features most ambient and post-rock pieces.

The casting by Robin D. Cook and Fiona Weir is incredible as it features some notable small roles Amanda Brugel and Joe Pingue as a couple of police officers who would find Jack in his escape, Wendy Crewson as a TV talk show host who interviews Joy in the film’s second half, and Cas Anvar as the psychologist Dr. Mittal who watches over Jack’s progress into society. William H. Macy is superb as Joy’s father Robert as a man who tries to handle all of the legal things relating to the case but has trouble dealing with the presence of his grandson. Tom McCamus is fantastic as Joy’s mother’s boyfriend Leo who slowly bonds with Jack as he finds a way to connect with him while being the male figure the boy can turn to. Sean Bridgers is excellent as the captor known as Old Nick as a man who is very creepy and determined to keep Joy and Jack in captivity where he has the code to get in and get out of the shed while being quite abusive at times towards Joy.

Joan Allen is brilliant as Joy’s mother Nancy who becomes concerned for her daughter’s well-being and behavior in the aftermath of her return while slowly connecting with Jack in unexpected ways. Jacob Tremblay is phenomenal as Jack as a young boy who has been sheltered for much of his life as he is someone with an absolute sense of imagination and an innocence that is just engaging as it’s really an unforgettable performance. Finally, there’s Brie Larson in a magnificent performance as Joy Newsome as a young woman who was kidnapped by a man when she was 17 as she copes with not just being in captivity but also raising her son where she later has trouble adjusting to returning to society and the changes in the world as it’s Larson in one of her best performances to date.

Room is an outstanding film from Lenny Abrahamson that features great performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Along with a strong supporting cast and a gripping story of a mother’s bond with her son in captivity. It’s a film that manages to be a lot of things and more where it isn’t afraid to have a bit of fantasy while being grounded in the harsh world of reality. In the end, Room is a spectacular film from Lenny Abrahamson.

Lenny Abrahamson Films: (Adam & Paul) - (Garage (2007 film)) - (What Richard Did) - Frank

© thevoid99 2015


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm seeing this on Friday, I'm so excited. I read the book this year and I think it will be a great film. Nice review!

ruth said...

Great review Steven! Glad you have a high praise for this one, it's really an absorbing and emotional film and fantastically acted all around. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay were excellent, and I was impressed by Tom McCamus whom I've never seen before. Bill Macy wasn't around for much at all, it was basically a cameo. But it's certainly a memorable film overall.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-Thank you. It's really intense on an emotional level as I would so recommend this for anyone that wants a good drama.

@ruth-Thanks. The casting was excellent as I remember McCamus from The Sweet Hereafter as Sarah Polley's dad. It is a great film as I actually spent half the film in tears because it was powerful.

keith71_98 said...

I want to see this soooo bad but it still hasn't opened in my area. Our state paper did hint that it may be opening next week. My fingers are crossed.

thevoid99 said...

@keith71_98-See it when you get the chance. It is really an astonishing film as I'm really hoping for some serious Oscar nods for Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.