With the exception of “The Big Short” our Oscars countdown thus far has taken us on some epic journeys—across the Atlantic to a new home in “Brooklyn,” hundreds of millions of miles from home in “The Martian,” and straight into the heart of Cold War era East Germany in “Bridge of Spies.”(I suppose an argument could be made for the trip to Vegas.)
In “Room” the journey is much, much shorter, but made all the more significant by its brevity.
Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the screenplay), “Room” tells the story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a five-year-old boy who lives with his mom (Brie Larson) in Room.
We, the viewers, are all too aware of the reality of the situation—Jack’s mother was abducted by a man when she was 17 and held captive in this high-security, soundproofed shed, that’s mere miles from her family—but to Jack, it’s Room, the only home he’s ever known.
The entire story is told from Jack’s perspective, a perspective that gives a story that is in many ways (for obvious reasons) dark and tragic but with a sense of hope and discovery. It’s only after his fifth birthday that he learns that those things he sees on the TV are not pretend, as his mother had told him for the first five years of his life. Jack of course refuses to believe it and wishes he was four again.
A word of advice, you’ll want to bring a box of tissues to this one…or two.
Jacob Tremblay as Jack is phenomenal. Seriously, Mr. DiCaprio is probably very glad this nine-year-old wasn’t nominated. Watching this kid cope with the discovery that a whole world exists beyond the four walls of Room is incredible. There are the practical points, like adjusting to sunlight and building up his immune system. Then there are the social points. Jack’s never seen another human, apart from his mother, the man that imprisoned them, and the characters he’s seen on TV.
Seeing the resiliency of this child is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. Meanwhile, Jack’s mother has a much tougher time, as the reality of the time and life she has lost hits her. Brie Larson, who is nominated, and a strong contender heading into Sunday night is deserving of every single word of praise she’s received for this role. The back and forth of her love for her son and struggle with her situation is mesmerizing and inspiring.
“Room” is not an easy movie to watch, but it is definitely worth it for the incredible story of finding our own strength and what keeps us all moving forward.