Room (2015)

Room is a 2015 Canadian-Irish independent drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel of the same name. The film stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, and William H. Macy. Held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, a woman (Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time. Larson’s performance won her the won multiple awards for her performance, including the Academy Award for Best Actress, the BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Room also received three other Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Teenage Joy is abducted by a man only called “Old Nick”, who pretended to have lost a dog. Joy tried to help him and ended up being a prisoner of his for the next 7 years, getting regularly raped. Two years after the abduction she gives birth to a son, Jack, who she raises in the makeshift room in Nick’s shed in his backyard and which has an electronic lock, who’s combinations are held secret by Nick. Room has a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and rudimentary kitchen; the only window is a skylight, all of which Jack calls by name, as if they were living. Nick holds them both captive and he supplies Joy with food, medicines and vitamins. For Jack’s 5th birthday Joy bakes him a cake and they celebrate. At night she puts him to sleep in the little bed in the closet just before Nick visits for sex. She tries to stay optimistic for her son, but is suffering malnutrition and is sometimes overcome with depression. She allows Jack to believe that only Room and its contents are “real,” and that the rest of the world exists only on television.

Old Nick tells Joy that he lost his job and threatens he may not be able to afford their supplies in the future. When Joy reacts badly, he cuts their heat and power. Joy decides to tell Jack about the outside world; he reacts with disbelief and incomprehension, but also curiosity. She has Jack fake a fever, hoping that Old Nick will take him to a hospital where he can escape, but Old Nick says he will return the following day with antibiotics. Fearing that the tactic will not work, she coaches Jack to lie still and pretends he is dead and rolls him up in the carpet. Crying she makes Nick put the carpet in the back of his pickup truck and take the boy to a nice spot near the trees to lay him down. At a stop sign, Jack as coached by Joy, unrolls himself from the carpet and jumps out. Although stunned by his first exposure to the outside world, Jack jumps from the truck and attracts the attention of a passer-by. The police arrive and rescue him. Joy is rescued, Old Nick is arrested, and Joy and Jack are taken to a hospital.

At the hospital Joy is reunited with her parents; her mother Nancy and father Robert have divorced and her dad lives in another city while Nancy lives at their home with her partner Leo. After a few days Joy and Jack are brought to the house where Jack struggles to get acclimatized to a whole large world and is overwhelmed and even later asks his mother to go back to Room. Robert is unable to accept Jack and leaves back for his home. Joy struggles with anger and depression, lashing out at her mother and ignoring doctor’s appointments. She agrees to a television interview, but becomes angry when the interviewer questions her decision to keep Jack after his birth. Overwhelmed with guilt, she attempts suicide and is admitted to a hospital. While she is away Jack slowly starts to bond with his grandmother Nancy and Leo, who introduces the boy to his dog Seamus (Jack had an imaginary pet dog while in Room). Jack also makes friends with a boy his own age and who lives in the same neighbourhood.

Believing his long hair will give Joy the strength she needs to recover, Jack has his grandmother cut it for him so he can send it to her. He even tells Nancy that he loves her. Joy returns home and apologizes, thanking Jack for saving her life again. At Jack’s request, they visit Room one last time, escorted by police. Jack is confused; their possessions have been removed for evidence, and he feels it has shrunk, and that it is a different place with the door open. Joy asks Jack if he wants her to shut the door, but he says no. He and Joy say their goodbyes to Room and leave.

Stunningly acted by both Larson and young Jacob Tremblay, it’s a riveting film that makes you feel for the plight of the duo. Amazing what a low budget film can do with a good script and wonderful actors. I give this film a 9 outta 10!

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