Room

November 7, 2015 at 11:28 am | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Occasionally, modest budget films like this one get recognized come Oscar time, thought they are more often overshadowed by behemoth star-driven vehicles. If that happens this year, it would be more the shame because this little gem is a tour-de-force of acting and writing. The less said about the plot the better as one of the joys of the film comes in watching it unfold. In fact, I’m bothered that the trailers give away as much as they do. Director Lenny Abrahamson (who directed last year’s beautifully quirky “Frank”) clearly has an interest in complex, character driven dramas and this one focuses a mother and her 5 year old son. The mother is played beautifully by Brie Larson.  She rocketed into my awareness with 2013’s “Short Term 12,” where she was the anchor in a fantastic cast of young actors and she now has a half dozen films coming out over the next year, so she is likely to be a household name soon. This film alone may put her there. As with “Short Term 12,” she showed a natural talent for playing a complex character who was both strong and deeply broken and terrified in her fearlessness. But, as strong an actor as she is, the young boy (Jacob Tremblay) who played her son was the revelation here. Tremblay, who was actually 8 when he made the film, is wondrous as Jack. Joy, confusion, terror, rage, heartbreak, and so many other complex emotions play across him so completely that you cannot imagine he isn’t experiencing them. He draws the audience in; while he is on screen, you are glued to that performance. Equally as fantastic was the superb writing. Emma Donoghue wrote the screenplay based on her own novel by the same name. I was thrilled by her ability to capture the world of a small boy raised in isolation. Everything about how he conceived of the world seemed exactly right to me; that perspective would have never occurred to me but it struck me as entirely true. She has an eye for the little details (like his need for help when he first encounters stairs) that made the world of the story so rich and engrossing. There were two missteps, once with a police officer and once with a reporter, that did not feel real to me; they were the rare exceptions where it felt like they existed simply to move the plot rather than to be true to real life. Those are tiny exceptions that only serve to point out how remarkable the rest of the film is.  Truly this is one of the best I have seen this year.

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