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“Room”… A powerful, disturbing story of survival!

Room. Not ‘the’ room or ‘a’ room.

Well, I haven’t read the book. I don’t intend to either.
But Lenny Abrahamson’s feature film is one that tugs our heartstrings.
Be the tautly adapted script, commendable direction or the heart-warming performances, the film sets new benchmarks for the drama genre.

We have all read horrid tales about people under house arrest, who were battered and beaten for a long period. In Room, we have Ma (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) confined to a room in a shed for years. Their days begin and end within the four walls. Their only visitor is their captor whom they dread, but depend upon for ration.

Abrahamson succeeds in translating Emma Donogue‘s screenplay into an arresting feature film. So much so that we (kind of) begin to view the world (or oblivion about its existence) from the little boy’s eyes. ‘Room’ turns out to be the film’s third most significant character. For Jack, the materials in Room aren’t inanimate. He greets the sink, toilet, wardrobe and the bed with a ‘Good Morning’ and bid them ‘Good Night’ as he goes to sleep. Due credit to the writer for minute detailing, like, say, the garland out of eggshells.

An event of dissension between Ma and Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), prompts the latter to shut the power. Coupled with her angst over their survival being sabotaged with Old Nick left with no job, she plots a plan for the 5-year old Jack to escape. What follows is a series of mind-numbing events that you’ll stare at with clenched fingers! The plan succeeds and Jack is out in the open. Due credits to the maker, we feel the same suffocation and trepidation as Jack does. These are the moments that’ll make even the toughest ones cry. Culminating the sequence is the moment where Ma gets rescued by few like-minded cops. The shot where Jack stares aghast from the car window as his mother rushes to him for an embrace will remain etched in you for ages, I reckon.

The latter part of the film contributes to less melodramatic and more affecting moments of the film. How will Jack adjust to the big, bad, alien world? Coming to terms with beings of his own gender could have been shown with a bit more dexterity, I feel. His equation with his foster grandfather hasn’t been explored properly. Having lived all his life in Room for 5 years since his birth, Jack learns his language, mannerisms et al from his mother. Barring his long hair, he’s not shown to bear effeminate tendencies nonetheless. At a later point, he’s shown playing football with another kid, quite confidently. This perplexes us a bit about who has been his references on mastering gender appropriation since his access to the TV was limited by Ma.

Although the concept exudes a slight déjà vu vibe, Room makes sure that it builds a personality of its own. Adding sheen to the film are the leads, played with tremendous fervour by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. It’s quite unfortunate that Tremblay’s age will deter his chances to take home some awards that he richly deserved. Sean Bridgers personifies terror as Old Nick. Joan Allen and Tom McCamus are adequate.

In one of the final scenes, we have Ma and Jack makes one last ‘visit’ to ‘Room’. The scene concludes with Ma uttering a silent ‘Goodbye Room’, which is perhaps the most eloquent moment in the whole enterprise. We leave the auditorium with a heavy heart, but also having cherished a handful of tender moments that radiate sensitivity like we rarely see in cinema. Room, indeed, makes for a collectors’ item for more reason than one.

Image Courtesy: Element Pictures, No Trace Camping and Film4

 

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