Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen
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This is a gripping film, and not to be missed.
Based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, and scripted by Donoghue herself, this is unpredictable and powerful fare. The titular room is a garden shed, in which 24-year-old “Ma” (star on the rise, Brie Larson, from Trainwreck, Short Term 12, and 21 Jump Street) has been held captive for seven years. She has a five-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Trembley), whose father (Sean Bridgers) is Ma’s psychopathic captor; he’s referred to by both mother and child as Old Nick, a suitably satanic moniker.
Larson and Trembley are excellent in their very demanding roles, and what follows is an intelligent and rather harrowing study of love, hate, terror, desperation, and the respective importance (for sheer mental survival) of both realism and fantasy.
SPOILER ALERT! You have been warned if you read on. In marked contrast to most stories of this kind, the plight of Ma and Jacob is resolved relatively early in the piece. They hatch a successful escape plan, and the story actually gets more interesting as it deals with their adjustment to life in the outside world. It’s a completely unfamiliar and alien one to Jack, of course, and he’s understandably ambivalent, notwithstanding all the joys of freedom and discovery. Factor in the behaviour of their relatives, and of the media, and you have a satisfyingly multi-faceted, tense, and psychologically complex drama. The camera work (close-ups especially) is highly evocative, the dialogue rings true, and the direction of Irishman, Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did, Garage), is astute and sensitive. The only imperfections worth mentioning are a couple of implausible moments, but they don’t matter much. This is a gripping film, and not to be missed.