‘Room’ is emotionally gripping

Brie Larson, right, in "Room."

By Jacob Pierce |@JacobPierce1_DE |Daily Egyptian

It is a rare occurrence to walk out of a film emotionally drained and destroyed, yet happy to have experienced it.

“Room,” directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, falls into this category. It is a film that will be overlooked, but should never be counted out.

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Jack, played by Tremblay, is a 5-year-old boy who has lived his life inside a small garden shed with his mother, played by Larson. His mother was kidnapped at an early age and placed in the room by a man the two call “Old Nick.”

“Room,” which is what the mother and child call their prison, is Jack’s whole universe. His mother, trying to hide the child from the dark nature of their reality, makes up rules and a fake outside world to keep Jack sane.

But when Jack’s mother realizes they cannot keep living in the room, she must expose the boy to reality so they can escape — something neither may be ready for.

A little warning for anyone planning to see “Room,” prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster. It became hard to calm myself down as I drove home from the theater, which is the sign of a film that deeply resonates with you.

Every actor in this movie gives a phenomenal performance.

Larson, who has already shown her acting range in movies like “21 Jump Street” and “Short Term 12,” leads this superb cast in what might be the performance of her lifetime. She deserves the Academy Award for Best Actress, even with such a stiff competition.

The actress has a tough job. The entire film is told through the eyes of Jack, which is a terrific story choice, but causes Larson’s character to take a backseat. Through understated facial expressions and fantastic line delivery, the character becomes the audience’s emotional connection in the first couple minutes.

To mention Larson and not mention her younger companion would be a travesty. Finding good child actors is hard, especially for a drama such as this. For every Joseph Gordon Levitt there are a couple hundred Jake Lloyds giving child acting a bad name.

Tremblay gives everything he has for this role, and it makes Jack relatable to even the oldest audience member.

He helps add a child perspective to this story, playing the character with right combination of ignorance, bliss and fear in a way only a kid could.

The actor, and the dialogue written for him, creates a great parallel in this film. There is both the soul-crushing nature of being an adult stuck in this situation, and the hope of being a child, with a lot of life ahead of you.  

Seeing Jack accept normal life by playing with kids’ toys in comparison to ma’s fall deeper and deeper into rage and depression is an experience that will tear you apart. 

“Room” never comes off as melodramatic, and this pushes it to its highest potential. It places itself in a good range of realism and bleakness, which makes gripping scenes even more intense.

Even when the characters are out of the room, the movie does not end. It takes the happiness of escaping and turns it upside down to tell a harrowing tale of post-traumatic stress and depression.

It shows like scenes of Ma having to talk to the media for money and it only making her emotional state worse, which shows how frighting the outside world can also be.  

Go see this film as soon as possible. As heartbreaking as it sounds, it’s the good kind of painful movie experience — the one where you will leave saying, “That hurt, but I’m glad I saw it.”

Stars: 5 out 5.

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.