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Room film review


Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Emma Donoghue

Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Sean Bridgers

Film review by Hannah Sayer

Following on from the critical acclaim of his 2014 quirky hit Frank, Abrahamson has triumphed again with this intimate and equally quite frightening telling of Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel. Room, which was adapted for the screen by Donoghue and based on her novel of the same name, is both a story about hope and survival combined with the gripping intensity of the themes of abduction and imprisonment.

Joy/Ma, played by the exceptionally talented Brie Larson, was kidnapped and imprisoned in a shed when she was only 17 years old. When the film begins, we are introduced to Joy at the age of 24 and her 5 year old son Jack, played by the brilliant Jacob Tremblay. She has been held captive in this soundproof shed by a man they call Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) for 7 years. For Jack, Room is all he knows and Joy chooses for him to believe that there is nothing else outside of this tiny space they call home. The juxtaposition between Jack’s view of Room as his entire world and Joy’s view of this same space as her prison is heartbreaking. When they finally break out of Room and are thrust back into the real world, Joy herself has to adapt back to reality while at the same time being a mother to Jacob, who is only just experiencing the outside world for the first time.

Danny Cohen’s cinematography successfully captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of the enclosed space of Room. The use of low camera angles allows for the viewer to see the majority of the film from Jack’s point of view. The sense of intimacy that is created with this use of low shots allows for the viewer to appreciate Room as the only place this young boy has been witness to, as well as the horrific place of imprisonment for both Joy and Jack. The use of the setting of Room being only 10 square feet meant that the filmmaking restrictions did enable the tension and the claustrophobia to come across even more on screen. One of the most striking elements of the film is the way that Cohen has captured the vast difference between Room and the outside world. Once Joy and Jack are outside in the real world and looking back into the place they once called home, Cohen effectively captures an astonishing perspective of how small the space really was. Cohen is also responsible for the cinematography in the awards contender The Danish Girl. Although being shot using the same camera, Cohen used different lenses to achieve the two opposing styles seen on screen.

Brie Larson’s performance is likely to win the Academy Award for Best Actress at the upcoming ceremony, which is in no way surprising. Jacob Tremblay gives one of the best performances by a child actor ever seen on film. His acting is well beyond his years. Room is a beautiful film with truly exceptional performances, which is unexpectedly hopeful and uplifting amongst the dark reality of the situation.


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