Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ROOM (2015)

Directed By: Lenny Abrahamson 
Written By: Emma Donoghue; Based on her Novel 
Cinematography By: Danny Cohen 
Editor: Nathan Nugent 

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy, Wendy Crewson, Rory O’Shea

ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical--they are trapped--confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space that Ma has euphemistically named Room. Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack's curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma's resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world.

This film almost came out of nowhere. Even though based on a well known bestseller. The premise lends itself to so many cases of kidnapping and containment over the years. It was written before the most sensational case of the three women who were held captive for a decade. Though some details can be loose and tied in. This is a powerful story of it's own.

Luckily it never seems cloying, melodramatic or manipulative. It seems more like it is low energy and trying to be relateable. Yet shy's away from the conventional heavy lifting and explanation. Preferring to explain everything more as a past tense. That when it comes to dealing with things modern or currently. It is brought up and quickly discussed and discarded. Which would be fine if the film was in a pursuit to go somewhere bigger and needed the room to do it. It doesn't and soon seems to become more of the same only slightly different.

The film strangely works best in the first half of the film. As we get to realize the characters reality and limitations and see how the child sees the world. That first half is magical. As we get to see the indignities of heir day to day life and we see the rising despair in the mothers eyes. As she realizes her son is getting older and has been deprived of so much.

Early in the film we see the bond and relationship between the mother and son. That feels like a fantasy they must keep up, to never acknowledge the nightmare they are living in. That is normal for him, but hell for her as she tries to make it seem normal.

Once the second half of the film begins and the world opens up. There is obviously a change, but i admire the film for not going into a melodramatic TV movie mode. As it deals with the psychology and issues stemming from captivity for such a long time. After seeking that freedom for so long. Trying to get used to normal life. The mental and physical issues that stemmed from all that time. Trying to relate to others. The unacceptance of her son by her father. That becomes powerful in its own way. Though it feels more subtle then going raw or fully through with it.

Which is really the only major problem with the film. Is that the direction seems to structured towards the second half as it feels bland and boring. It keeps at a certain pace with light hues. That add nothing and the acting is emotional but feels restrained as the film does. At least in the first half of the film. As with such a restrained place the camera is always moving and close up. It feels alive and like vivid storytelling and film making. Once we get to the second half. It feels more directed and distant. I realize the style he is going for and the point he is making. The world and it's vast space. It's Hard to connect and can feel estranged or far away from those you love or feel close to. Though here it fails to make it as obvious and feels like a lot of effort for nothing. While also trying to not make it look like there is too much effort.

Once we do get to the end we are supposed to feel closure, but for some reason you walk away with questions that are never answered. That the film either hopes you will forget or take away that this is a snapshot of these characters loves and have more roads to travel, but we are giving you this to know they will be ok and survived this saga.

As we are not looking for sensationalism. Like a mandatory trail and finding out his motives for the crime. As that might humanize him, though it might also heighten the family drama. Rather than at a point just dropping it.

They portray the captor as human he is a regular guy with a compulsion who is capable of bad things and has problems. Though treat the situation as normal. The only time the realization that he is the father of the child. Though Brie Larson's character refuses him access and acknowledgment of him visually to him. Is in her scene with William H. Macy as her father and goes rather majorly unsaid but you can read between the lines.

'Old Nick,' the name of the antagonist in this film, is another name for 'the Devil' in Christianity, dating back to the mid-17th century.

Though as a fan of actress Brie Larson she is phenomenal and natural in her role. I just felt there was a lack of stand alone scenes to really show her emotional range and longing for peace of mind. She does it more in glances and slight behavior rather than fully physically or verbally. Which is strong in of itself. This strangely is a more voice role in action and emotions. Though played more internally. Rather than her last role that was really strong in SHORT TERM 12. Where she played the role more externally and visually emotional. Even though that role seemed slighter when dealing with personal drama. Though both roles involve dysfunction stemming from the past. He shows a dedication to the role supposedly she isolated herself for a month and followed a strict diet in order to get a sense of what Ma and Jack were going through. Also she claimed that she avoided washing her face while filming in the Room, to really make clear on-camera that she was not wearing makeup.

Shailene Woodley Was the only other actress up for the role besides her. While I can see her in the role. It would indicate a less time being captive.

Jacob Tremblay is phenomenal in his role as her son. As he is so precious and charming. Yet can have that rift amount of stubbornness to get on your nerves. Seeing him acting out at times. Then shy when communicating and talking to strangers. Though watching him slowly come it of his cocoon is heartwarming and seeing him and his mothers bond go from strong to weakening and then build back up. Is heartbreaking yet reassuring in the power of family and love. He is the star of the film as well as it's heart and is one of the best natural child performances I have ever seen. And I have seen a bunch, I was young once like all of you don't forget and watched those films and still do at times now.

I can't lie I was really affected by this film. It got me quite a few times naturally and not manipulatively with it's score. That I found myself reacting more physically and verbally a couple of times during this film. Which is rare for me. Especially when you know what is coming, but the film is so strong that it fills you with an anxiety and passion that you have to react. If even just to calm yourself down and have some kind of release. It is usually what horror films are based on. So if a film can do that expertly and emotionally as a drama. It usually is pretty strong.

As the film comes to an end. The reality comes to hit you in the face again as things begin to get better. They are summoned back to their old shed. As for such a small place it is intricate and wondrous. That we don't truly see how small it really is until the third act.

It seems like a movie where it likes to act bold and assured. Though seems afraid and second guesses itself quite a few times.

The film isn't the speediest watch, but it is affecting. It had me hook line and sinker from the beginning. As it starts off as a dream and turns into a nightmare and then once it should be a dream. Still allows for night terrors.

Grade: B

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