McCoy on Movies: Room

McCoy on Movies: Room

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A mother and son spend their entire existence inside a 10x10x10 space, but does Room deserve potential Oscar consideration or should it be condemned to destruction? See what our movie critic has to say!


“You’ve got to break a few eggs to make a cake … Or to make an insane eggshell necklace no respecting person would wear ever!” Jake (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Joy (Brie Larson) pass the time in their captive state in a scene from A24’s claustrophobic drama ROOM. Credit: George Kraychuk, courtesy of A24.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, William M. Macy and Wendy Crewson

WRITER(S): Emma Donoghue (screenplay and based on the best-selling novel by)

DIRECTOR(S): Lenny Abrahamson
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): A tale of love, desperation, survival and adjustment, Room stars Jacob Tremblay as Jake, a 5 year-old boy who spends his days loving life with his mother, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson). They bathe together, exercise together, watch TV together, read books together and do all of the normal things that a young mother and son would do.

There’s just one problem: There is nothing normal about their situation, especially since Jake and his mom been confined to one 10x10x10 foot space – which he affectionately calls “room” – for his entire life. 

Determined to escape their situation, Joy trains Jake on a daily basis in hopes of one day escaping their torment. And while Jake is a good listener mostly, there’s one thing his mother has failed to consider in her desperation to escape being tapped inside room … How will she – and more importantly, her son who has never seen it – adjust to life outside if they are able to escape.  

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Students of acting; people of films that are unflinching in their examination of harrowing situations; Nancy Grace fans; people who enjoy movies with strong performances and/or odds that must be overcome/dealt with; 

WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Kidnapping/sexual assault victims; some Ohio residents; people who are not good at withstanding emotionally taxing films; young mothers; estranged parents; investigative reporters 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Thanks to a well thought out script, spectacular performances and an intense, unrelenting and deep exploration of its characters, Room might be the best movie … You never want to see again. 

Room is intense and, at times, uncomfortable to watch. I say that as a compliment to the film because there is no way you should feel comfortable watching a woman be forcibly kept against her will and even less so when you realize she is raising a child she was forced to have who has zero concept of the outside world. Under the unflinching direction of Lenny Abrahamson, you feel just how small the space Jake and Joy are forced to exist in as well as the juxtaposition of how it can feel so confined for one and yet all encompassing for the other. It all puts you dead center into their world where your level of empathy isn’t so much forced as it is a genuine concern for their situation to be resolved before they potentially get worse. Then, in the film’s second act, Abrahamson does the exact same thing once Jake and Joy have to adjust to their new surroundings, one trying to reconnect whereas the other has trouble envisioning life in the “normal” way. 

(It’s really hard to say too much more without saying too much more. Back to the review …)

Room ONLY works as well as it does, however, because of the Academy Award worthy performance of Larson and even more so, Tremblay. Whereas Larson is succinct in showcasing the struggle of trying to be a loving parent and make Jake face reality inside of room, she is phenomenal at showing all the struggles – and not in a hokey fashion – someone in her situation would face in the aftermath. The little things you might not imagine being stressful to the point of causing a potential breakdown unless you were in Joy’s shoes are on full display, driving home the complete magnitude of the ordeal she is facing. 

It cannot be overstated, however, how Tremblay’s absolutely stellar performance is the film’s emotional centerpiece and so well nuanced, you almost forget he’s a child playing a child, for you will marvel at how he nails every emotion, thought and action Jake has at the exact right time in the story. Through a child’s innocence, Tremblay makes you remember the mystery, how frightening and confusing certain things can be during and joy of childhood in a way that is nothing short of perfect.

All that being said, Room can – and as the film makes painstakingly clear – hard to watch as you will feel tension for Joy and Jake’s safety only to later feel the sorrow as they struggle to adjust to their new seemingly happy reality. The ending is worth the struggle if you can bear bearing witness to Jake’s and Joy’s pain, for at the end lies a light as bright as the one Jake stares at out of room.

Room and its crew should likely plan to make room for accolades and awards come early 2016.