Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Room (15)

You'll have seen the posters already, no doubt, and probably read about this lovely film about a boy discovering the world.

You'll look and you'll read and you'll conclude that Room is a smooshy feelgood film.

You'll be wrong.

Room is a much, much darker film than is being publicised.

And that's no bad thing.

In fact, it's a great thing. You just might not think it at the time.

If you haven't looked up the story already, then don't. Going in cold will give this film a lot more impact.

It starts with Brie Larson as a mum living in Room with her son, Jack.

Over time, we realise she is being kept there against her will.

The story is then allowed to unfold and evolve naturally, without spelling things out.

The focal point of the film is Ma and her relationship with Jack - and it is this that has huge, emotional impact.

It has heft and weight, and as their bids for freedom unfold, your emotions go through the wringer.

And it continues that way through the whole film.

We're reticent to say too much about the plot, because - as mentioned - knowing as little as possible seems to add to the film's impact.

But know this.

While Larson is nailed on for the Oscar, the real star of the show is Jacob Tremblay.

How a kid who isn't yet 10 can give a performance of such intensity is beyond us.

You believe everything he says and does - when he's scared, you're scared; when he's angry, you're scared again; when he cries... Well, you get the picture.

Basically, he doesn't put a foot wrong.

Although, to be fair, no one does.

Every performance is on the button and director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did) wrings out all the drama and emotion he can.

To the point that you think you're in for some respite, and you get hit again.

But if I'm making this sound like a film that's hard work, it's not.

It has moments of real lift as well, moments that you'll find hard to see because your eyes have suddenly gone all blurry.

It's a real heavyweight roller coaster.

It's not perfect, but then if it was this would be a much shorter review.

There's a moment when Jack's looking at the sky that's given a bit of a ham-fisted score when ambient sound would have hit home far more, and the closing shot is a bit too mushy Hallmark to stomach.

But these are small gripes in the grand scheme of things.

Room is an emotional story of survival and love and family. Of triumph against all the odds.

And for that it should be celebrated.

But it's not a mushy, feel good, soppy piece the likes of which Nicholas Sparks books serve up on an annual basis.

And for that it should be celebrated as well.

(Writing this without giving anything away was like writing it with a cat on one's lap - harder than you'd think)

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