February 18, 2016
I knew nothing about the plot of this film when I went to watch it. I only knew that its lead actress Brie Larson had been nominated for Best Actress in practically every award-giving body. In fact, she had already won the major ones, including the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Julianne Moore won all these last year and went home with the Oscar. In the same way, we can say that the Academy Award for Best Actress is already Brie Larson's to lose.
When the film began, I thought I would not be able to get through it. The set is very claustrophobic -- just a small room which was so cramped and untidy that you can practically smell its stench. There were only two characters in there. There was an annoying 5-year old boy Jack, who looked like a girl with his very long hair. He lives with his young mother Joy, who seemed to be such an irresponsible mom, keeping Jack trapped inside that room with only a skylight for him to see the sky outside.
However, when stick with it, you will be rewarded with an unexpected turn of events that will teach you the virtue of not judging a film from its first five minutes. The real situation of mother and son that reveals itself will be beyond your wildest expectations.
The challenge of Brie Larson is the portrayal of young woman with a very unusually traumatic situation. Larson gave a vividly internal performance that effectively conveyed all the pent-up pain, anger and frustration of this girl who had her youth stolen from her. While all the nominees in the Oscar race for Best Actress this year quietly shone without hysterics in their respective parts, I think it is the rawness and naturalness of Larson's performance in such a unique role that gave her the edge.
I really felt that the child actor who played Jack, Jacob Tremblay, should have been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He was at first being pushed in the Supporting category when it was obvious that he was the co-lead. At first, his acting can be construed as painfully annoying, yes. However, when you realize the real situation they were in, you'd really be very impressed with how this very young actor could have portrayed such a difficult role. Because of his tender age, raw and natural is the only way he could go, and he nailed it.
Director Lenny Abrahamson deserves his Oscar nomination for Best Director for simply being able to unravel the story with such gripping subtlety, based on the screenplay (also Oscar-nominated) by Emma Donoghue as adapted from her own 2010 book with the same one-word title. Despite its simple and unassuming title, "Room" actually tackles very complex emotions. It is a riveting drama about a family's liberation from a real-life nightmare and the struggle to move on from its ghosts. 8/10