Wednesday, September 16, 2015

TIFF 2015: Room

Jacob Tremblay (Jack) and Brie Larson (Ma)

Room (Ireland/​Canada, 2015) directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Princess of Wales, 3p, 118 minutes

This Booker-shortlisted phenomenon by the Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue was a hugely  successful - both critically and commercially. It certainly shocked and entranced many of us when it was released. Expectations were very high for this film. 

Joy (Brie Larson) was kidnapped and held in a sound proof bunker disguised as a garden shed at seventeen. Two years later she was impregnated by her captor (whom she refers to simply as Old Nick) and gives birth to Jack (Jacob Tremblay). They live in a space that Jack calls the "Room". When the film opens, Jack is five. 

In the book, Joy (known as Ma to Jack) creates a complete and wondrous world for Jack - she is creative, mindful of his health, actively physically engaging him, all in one single room that contains everything they need to live in a very minimal manner: drinking water, food, heat, a toilet, a bath. 

Larson is wonderful here - striking the right balance between loving, fearful and very close to the edge as she struggles to survive under horrific circumstances. At night, the repulsive and sometimes violent "Nick" brings food and supplies and forces sex on Joy while Jack is confined to a wardrobe, unseen and unheard. 

The young boy Jacob Tremblay is a wonder here - the little boy is, by turns, loving and inquisitive, angry and confused, defiant and all five year old petulant when required by the script. 

When Jack turns five, Joy conceives a plan to escape and then the duo are forced to live under the scrutiny of the press and the pressures of existing in the wider world when they are successful in their escape.  

The script is constructed such that the tension does not diminish with the transition to the post-Room world. Joy is angry, sometimes unstable. sometimes rough with Jack. He has high anxiety dealing with new people and chaotic situations. Mercifully, we no longer see their captor and the film does not dwell on the abuse that Joy suffered or how she was entrapped by "Nick". 

It's balanced and non-exploitative in area that could easily slip into a very salacious re-working of the novel. 

View from the very very back row

No comments: