Festival Review: Room (2015)


A sensitive study of imprisonment and the painfulness of freedom, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is an emotional, cinematic tour-de-force.

Small World

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Room is a powerfully involving story of survival, adapted from the bestseller by its author, Emma Donaghue. The novel was narrated by five-year-old Jack, who lives with Ma in a locked and soundproofed shed, which they call Room, in the backyard of the man who abducted her seven years earlier when she was seventeen. Jack has never seen the outside world, apart from on television: all he knows is Room. Director Lenny Abrahamson suggests Jack’s limited perspective visually through extreme close-ups of the grubby, claustrophobic environment. Jack and his mother are close – they’re all they’ve got. But midway, in a tense, heart-stopping scene, Jack makes the break for freedom that Ma has primed him for. But escape is not the longed-for happy ending – the emotional complexity of the second half is the aftermath – the bright, white clinical hospital, the people, the busy-ness, the media intrusion – the scary outside world risks becoming a different kind of prison. Both Ma and Jack have to find a way to move on – Ma from her pain and Jack to normality. Jacob Tremblay as Jack and Brie Larson as Ma could not be any better in their roles, and have excellent support from Joan Allen and William H Macy as her traumatised parents.

Room is now showing at the London Film Festival

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