Room review

A young mother and her son live in their own tiny world.

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson returns after the triumph of Frank for an utterly unique tale which has seen the filmmaker deservedly thrust onto the world stage.

Room is fresh from a Golden Globes win for lead actress Brie Larson and it’s well deserved, with her performance helping to bring together the many ferocious emotions the film plays with during its nearly two hour running time. And she's matched step for step by the young narrator of the piece, played by Jacob Tremblay. He's raw and real and mesmerising as young Jack in a role which will be remembered as one of the best child performances of all time.

The film is based on a book by Irish author Emma Donoghue which was published in 2010. Donoghue also penned the screenplay for the film and has earned her own accolades for an effective big screen reinterpretation of the story.

Room is a unique tale and one which is best experienced without any prior knowledge of the story. It isn’t that the film revolves around a mystery or something so obvious as a twist but there’s something special about being able to enjoy the movements of a narrative as the director intended, without second guessing what’s going to happen next.

It’s also not an easy watch, with the harsh realities of the situation laid bare, even while this mother and child bond is also celebrated in all its breadth and depth. That central relationship is key to every aspect of the film, and watching it bend and stretch, and even come close to breaking, as the story progresses, is truly mesmerising.

Room is astonishingly well made but it might also be difficult to recommend. The experience of watching it is very intense, with few moment of levity or any more relaxing scene. That bleak tone may be too much for some audiences, and it also may stand against the film when it comes to Oscar time.

Abrahamson has tackled his most complex subject yet, and it’s amazing to see his maturation as a filmmaker just three short years after What Richard Did. Room is startling and vivid and utterly unique, and if it doesn’t go on to win any more awards it’s another impressive calling card for Ireland’s most consistently surprising director.

-Daniel Anderson


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