Room – ★★★★

SYNOPSIS: For the past few years, Joy (Brie Larson) and her young son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) have been held captive inside a garden shed. Whilst going about their daily routines, the pair plot their escape and eventually succeed. However with Jack learning more about the outside world, Joy becomes disorientated and struggles to cope with getting her life back on track.

The harrowing experience of being trapped in an small space and then having to adjust to life back in reality is explored powerfully by Lenny Abrahamson in his effective Oscar-nominated drama Room.

Adapted from Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed novel, the film deals with a dark subject matter that affects the first half of the film as we watch Joy and Jack make little use of their isolated surroundings.

Abrahamson and his cinematographer Danny Cohen capture the uncomfortable experience successfully and make some exceptional artistic choices such as the close angles and tight shots. The best example of this comes in shocking scenes where Jack is kept hidden in the wardrobe while his mother is being abused by her captor Old Nick.

The key sequence of our youngster having to escape from this vile man’s van in order to find help is crisply shot and leaves you on edge especially through the use of The Mighty Rio Grande’s atmospheric song “They Will Destroy You”.

But once our devoted mother and son pair find themselves in the outside world, the film takes a unique direction of having Jack see this great wonder through his eyes which is done through the mesmerising use of colour and point-of-view camera shots.

However the emotional trauma remains a running theme throughout even during the second half when the duo are in a better place and supported by their devoted family which ultimately leads to conflict and further risks.

These scenes do tend to make us lose a little bit of sympathy especially when Joy is clashing with her own mother or when Jack gets into random tantrums but you would probably expect that given the turmoil they have both been put through.

Fresh from her recent Golden Globe win (and potential Oscar victory), Brie Larson undergoes a stunning transformation in her portrayal of Joy. Whether it be the strain of being locked away in a room for years or having to deal with the frustrations of being back in reality, you can’t help but be blown away by such an emotionally-raw performance.

This is also strengthened by her fantastic chemistry with her young and adorable co-star Jacob Tremblay. He expresses the wide-eyed look to perfection especially when Jack sees the outside world for the first time and it’s great to see the young man pull off a mature and endearing role.

Experienced actress Joan Allen lends valuable support in her brief appearance as Joy’s supportive mother while credit must go to Sean Bridgers for his limited but creepy turn as Old Nick.

However it’s a shame that a renowned name like William H. Macy is underused as Joy’s dad especially in a crucial arc in the film. While you can understand his character’s resentment of Jack, it feels somewhat underwhelming that this is never followed up as he disappears and is never seen again.

All in all, Room leaves a strong impression on its audiences especially those who have had a nurtured upbringing thanks to its tenacious directing and extraordinary performances.

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