In these four walls, cinema history is made
A five-year-old boy called Jack ( Jacob Tremblay) has never seen the outside of the room he lives in. His feet have never touched grass and his fingers have never run over the bark of a tree. His mother tells him that nothing exists outside of the four walls that surround them. There are only two people who are real: he and his mom. There is a man called Old Nick who comes to drop off groceries when the boy is asleep, but Jack does not know whether Old Nick is real or where he comes from.
This is the opening of the drama Room, based on the bestselling novel by Emma Donoghue and nominated for a 2016 Oscar for best picture. It’s by far the most remarkable film I’ve seen this year (yes, even better than The Revenant).
Through the eyes of Jack we are forced to ask ourselves the most existential questions: about our definition of the world, our inclination to confine ourselves, and also about motherhood. When we meet Jack’s mom, brilliantly played by Brie Larson, we can only think of her as a monster. What mother would be so terrifyingly obsessive as to deprive her child of living in a world outside of the confines of a small room? And though it is an extreme example, don’t all mothers in some deep part of themselves wish they could keep their children that safe, that untouched by the at-times cruel reach of the world?
But rest assured, Room does not set out to be bleak, depressing or horrifying (although at times it is). Instead, it will leave you feeling awed by human resilience and people’s ability to survive.
The trailer reveals that Jack and his mom eventually make it out of the room, so I won’t be giving anything away by telling you that. And this is where the movie kicks into another gear, giving us even more questions to ponder. What is more terrifying: living in the confines of a room forever, or facing the bright lights, speed, responsibilities, requirements, noise and terror of the outside world?
In an Oscar category filled with big effects (Mad Max) and physical extremes (The Revenant), Room is a film that relies solely on the acting of its two protagonists and their ability to imagine the psychology of a someone who finds themselves in the most unthinkable position. The fact that the nine-year-old, Tremblay, was able to do that, is even more remarkable. This is a must-see.
MOTHER’S LOVE Room is an excellent study in human psychology