Sunday, 14 February 2016

Unbreakable Brie Larson

You know how uncomfortable it is to share a lift with another person? To be caught in such close proximity with another person, with no escape, for a short amount of time. Now imagine being in that lift for seven years. That is sort of what this film does. This is Room.

Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) live in Room, a 10 by 10 foot room, where they are held captive by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). Nick has had Ma locked away for seven years and regularly rapes her. After a couple of years, along came Jack. Born and raised in Room, Jack knows nothing of the outside world and quizzes Ma over the existence of dogs, why the leaves turn brown, and other bits of common knowledge. Ma dreams of better things for Jack and begins working on a plan to get him out of Room and away from Old Nick, but perhaps the outside world is not as warm and welcoming as she recalled.

Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson as Jack and Ma in Room

You may remember Brie Larson from such comedy outings as 21 Jump Street, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and even Community on the small screen. In Room, she moves away from making us laugh and instead invites us into a world of turmoil and suffering. In a narrative that could easily tip into being melodramatic, Larson controls Ma's mood swings and emotional instability as she tries to hold her life together for Jack, keeping the character real and devastatingly effective. But Ma does not just support Jack, she is also supported by him. Their relationship is built on each other, and the expansion of their world to include other people throws off that delicate balance. Jacob Tremblay - at only 9 years of age - expertly portrays the introverted fear and yet childlike wonder that an isolated five year old would experience when entering the world and meeting other people for the first time. 

The pair getting into the swing of things

Room is a stunning portrayal of the darkness that exists in our world. Not that it is based on a true story, but it strikes a lot of similarities to a real case that influenced the plot. But it is not just the nature of Big Nick's crimes that are shocking; it is Ma and Jack's reaction to the outside world. Jack longs for the comfort and security of Room, something that is brilliantly visualised by a nifty bit of camera work that makes that 10 by 10 foot space seem huge and spacious. Ma, on the other hand, struggles to reaccustom to day to day life, and spirals into hard-to-watch arguments with her mother and worse. The supposedly brighter world outside Room is full of unaccepting fathers and invasive media. Room, however, is a compelling story wonderfully told by director Lenny Abrahamson and writer (both novel and screenplay) Emma Donoghue.

Room is unapologetically heavy. It is not a nice or easy story, but it is one of the most engaging films of the year. Both Larson and Tremblay are completely outstanding and deserve every accolade coming their way. The weight of the film can make it a little draining at times, but ultimately a very rewarding watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment