Room ★★★★★

Lenny Abrahamson's Room is most often lauded for its emotionally impactful story and a true gem that is Brie Larson's Oscar-winning acting performance. And - on occasion - it is very vocally dissed for Jacob Tremblay's turn as the five-year-old Jack, as apparently some viewers find it annoying and artificial. So, before I get into my review proper, I would like to ask the critics of Tremblay's acting to go and watch Shane as an example of truly awful child acting. Seriously, Tremblay looks like Jack Nicholson in comparison to that kid...

Anyway, while others seem preoccupied with analysing the quality of acting and getting over the emotionally devastating subject matter of the film, I would like to draw your attention to how Lenny Abrahamson used the visual language of cinema to tell this story and to additionally bolster its themes.

Adapted from a novel inspired primarily by one of the most notorious criminal cases in Austrian history (or maybe even in history in general), Room is a story told predominantly from the perspective of a child who has very little idea about what is going on around him. With the great use of the frog perspective, shallow depth of field and narrow angles, Room distils its harrowing narrative premise to fit the field of vision of a kid. And it is this cinematic device that stands behind the film's emotional power, as the utter horror these characters go through remains for the most part shrouded in the fog of subtext. We never get to witness anything and rarely do we hear anything either.

By choosing Jacob Tremblay's character as the conduit for the audience, Abrahamson made sure that everything we'd come to understand about the nature of what they are going through would always be translated into metaphorical language one would use when communicating with a child, or left out entirely. And leaving it for the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks is by far the most suggestive and effective way of evoking a strong emotional response.

So, while Larson did give a fantastic performance that indubitably helped to elevate the film, the success of Room lies in the expert way a child is utilised as the primary storyteller. As a result, the sombre themes of the psychological impact of captivity, the lengths we go to in order to protect our children, and especially in the latter half the comparative study of different ways one's freedom can be taken away are all the more powerful and evocative. Room isn't as much a triumph of spirit or a testament to endurance of the motherly instinct, but a very clever commentary on many facets of captivity and on the shaping of a young mind that makes stunning use of cinema's greatest asset, the visual.

Jakub liked these reviews