In th­ese four walls, cinema his­tory is made

CityPress - - Trending - GRETHE KOEN grethe.koen@city­press.co.za

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

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