Nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress in a Leading Role, which Brie Larson won, Room is a 2015 film adapted from the novel by Emma Donoghue. It is nothing short of intense and I quickly referred to it as one of the saddest films I've seen in recent years. My regular readers will know I do not have a problem with "sad" as long as the film is uplifting and inspirational in the end. Although very disturbing, Room does deliver in this regard.
"We all help each other stay strong. No one is strong alone." ~ Room
Room is about a young woman, Joy (Larson), who is taken prisoner at the age of seventeen by a sadistic man referred to as "Old Nick" (Sean Bridgers). Two years into her captivity and abuse, she has a child named Jack (Jacob Tremblay), and it is on his fifth birthday that the film begins. For the first 48 minutes of the film, viewers are restricted to life inside the tiny, windowless room that is home to this mother and son. Even I was beginning to feel claustrophobic and anxious. The second half of the film focuses on Joy and Jack's escape and the long road to healing they must endure.
One scene is so emotionally charged, my stomach was in my throat. Other scenes were so overwhelming, I just sat there and sobbed. Even surprisingly tender moments are quickly splattered with horror. I know - I am not exactly selling this film for a fun movie night! Yet, it is a powerful story of human relationships and how a broken soul can heal. With a plot ripped from all too familiar headlines, Room is a tragic story that shows how victims of violent crimes never fully recover, but merely get through the next step. On the plus side, the film is a triumph in showing what the human spirit can endure while trying to let go of unthinkable pain.
Larson was worthy of her Oscar win, but the highlight of the film for me was Tremblay's performance of Jack. Room also stars Joan Allen (whose performance was deeply touching) as Joy's mother, William H. Macy as her father, and Tom McCamus. The film is rated R for language, but even though there aren't explicit violent scenes, the content alone warrants this rating.