Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and Ma (Brie Larson) have spent the entirety of Jack’s life in Room. Jack has a good life with Ma. They play and read and exercise. It’s only when Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) comes to Room that Jack has to hide in Wardrobe. After Jack’s fifth birthday, Ma tells him that there is an entire world outside of Room and that they should escape Room to see it. But to escape Room and Old Nick, Ma needs Jack’s help.
Room does everything right it could possibly do right, creating a film that is very much deserving of the touching story and its strong characters.
It must be difficult for an author to adapt their own novel to the screen (though I do think it’s certainly also difficult for them to give that right to their text to somebody else – who knows what they make of it), but Emma Donogue managed with aplomb. Even with the necessary trimming, her story is still there and intact. There are truths in the novel we don’t talk about enough – and they are also there in the film.
There’s the fact that trying to get away from abuse can be just as bad as the abuse itself, in a very different way – that the abuse stops doesn’t mean that the trauma stops and to get rid of trauma is long, hard road. That the family who should support you and wants to support you might be struggling with things, too – so much so that their support is shaky at best. That everything needs time.
But no matter how strong the script is, it would have been nothing without Brie Larson, who is simply stunning, and Jacob Tremblay. In recent years we have seen many strong child actors and he is definitely among the strongest. He is hypnotic as Jack and the movie knows to stick with him to tell the story and his perspective is beautifully captured by the cinematography.
In a very terrible way, it’s a beautiful film and vice versa. Watching it isn’t easy, but Abrahamson made it as accessible and positive as possible, so in the end you will probably have cried, but you will also be convinced that Jack and Ma will make it through anything. And that’s good.