Room ★★★★½

Part of:
2016 Oscars Wishlist
2015 Feature Films: RANKED
Movies I Saw in Theaters

”Do you remember how Alice wasn’t always in Wonderland?”
“She fell down, down, down deep in a hole!”

Room is a single punch in the stomach that lasts for two hours. When it’s all over, all you can feel is emptiness, and despite the lights in the theater coming up, and your swift return to your normal life, you remain in Room until it is quite finished with you. I saw this three days ago, and I have yet to leave Room.

My mind remains behind -- the last bastion of the claustrophobic world Lenny Abrahamson created with this mind-altering tale of love and the fight for freedom. Add just a dash of catharsis and everything he created would be destroyed. Room exists in a self-induced exile, and its conclusion wishes to offer you neither mercy nor redemption. It simply lives on in you, and refuses to let go of your beating heart, whose pulse has not slowed since the first frame of Room sent it into overdrive.

Jacob Tremblay is the highlight of the entire film, working excellently with his older, more experienced cast-mates. He delivers one of the most impressive performances of the year, and surely one of the most poignant and profoundly enchanting performances that I have ever watched on screen. Brie Larson continues to shock and awe her audience with spectacular conveyance of emotion, and the underplaying of a character that could have easily been ruined with just a pinch of overacting. Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, and William H. Macy all deliver nothing short of excellent performances all around. McCamus in particular is delightfully subtle in his role as the only outsider who really seems to understand Jacob Tremblay’s Jack -- a little boy who needs to be protected, even now that he is free. William H. Macy’s time on the screen is brief, but what he does with that time is impressive, and nothing less than I have grown to expect from him. Joan Allen’s performance is perhaps the most impressive of the supporting work in Room. As her character struggles to adopt the responsibility of grandmotherhood, while remaining the solid object her daughter and grandson may hold onto in a time of turmoil, Allen is able to convey so much with so little. The cast is truly impressive, and manages to magnetize its audience without sensationalizing the story in any way.

Lenny Abrahamson’s direction, paired with novelist Emma Donoghue’s debut screenplay create a seamless and panicked story. One of despair and secrecy, and one which excludes any themes of hope when they are anything but absolutely necessary. And when the film needs hope, it looks to its youngest cast member to light a candle and hold it up to the mirror, so that we may remind ourselves of how much joy we have in our own lives, and how much joy there might be left in the life of little Jack. Room is something magical, and it is something special.

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