Are we on a different planet?
Same one. Just a different spot.
In Room, Brie Larson plays a young woman being held prisoner by the man who kidnapped her seven years before. Five years before, she had a son by this man and she’s endeavored to make as much of a life as possible for herself and her son in the tiny shed where they live their entire lives. I didn’t care much for Abrahamson’s last movie, the dire Frank, but if you know me, you know I’m as sold on Brie Larson as you can be, I think. I reckon her as one of the three best actresses working today (other two? Blanchett; Vikander). She’s really wonderful in this film, as expected; she really inhabits her character to a beautiful degree. Her character has to play the entire range of human emotions over the course of this, sometimes grueling, film. Jacob Tremblay doesn’t exactly give the revelatory performance for all time that some critics have been saying he gives, but he’s solid and when you’re talking about a movie with a five year old as a main character, I’m thrilled with solid. Child actors are dicey and a bad one would have crippled this movie beyond repair. And while Tremblay isn’t quite astonishing or anything, he’s way above average, quite good really. Given that the trailers spoiled it, I suppose I’m safe to tell you that mother and child get out of Room a little ways into the movie and the film really becomes even more compelling at that point as the film becomes a story of mother readjusting to a world she hasn’t seen in years and son adjusting to a reality he never could have imagined. It’s a thought-provoking film about the lasting trauma of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and Joan Allen and William H. Macy are both really excellent in support, though Macy is criminally underused. The opening section of the film where mother and son are prisoners is compelling, but the strongest stuff comes later as the film really becomes a moving exploration of the process of letting go of the past and moving into the future, of rediscovering a way to live after extreme trauma. This is moving stuff and relatable on a lot of levels even for people who haven’t been held prisoner for years. There are scenes in this section of the film that are really gorgeous; a scene where Larson goes through an old photo-album is a stunner, just as one example. It’s a quiet movie in a lot of ways and it may take you a while to catch its rhythms, which are slow, but the cumulative effect it had on me was incredibly powerful. It left me really deeply moved. So chalk up another triumph for Larson, giving another in a long string of genuinely, timelessly great performances and props to the film as a whole as well. It’s a slow burn, but the pain is real and, ultimately, so is the hope. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Larson’s beautiful lead performance anchors a thoughtful, deeply effecting film about the power of trauma to scar and the power of hope and love to heal; never sappy, always honest. 4 stars.