Ben Oliver

Banner image for Room


There’s so much of ‘place’ in the world.
18 January 2016

A woman (Brie Larson), captured years before the film starts and with a five year-old son born in captivity, manages to escape the room she’s been confined to. She and her son must then try to re-enter the wider world and re-integrate with her family.

This is an odd blend of a high-concept film/thriller and a family drama. During the escape sequence for instance, someone in the crowd literally shouted ‘run, Jack!’. I wouldn’t say Room was that powerful but it definitely has its moments of tension.

Then, as if to mirror the experience of the characters, the film shifts drastically in tone when the pair are released. It’s a bold move that just about pays off and definitely puts it above others of its ilk. It’s a clever way to widen the scope of the story without straying too far from the original idea.

Larson’s character struggles with her new found freedom but where this would normally be frustrating to watch, Abrahamson manages to get us to see it from her point of view. We are never quite allowed to forget the first half of the film.

Room is somewhat exploitative at times however. There’s a feeling that most of the drama is coming from the idea rather than the acting, writing or direction, and it’s hard to shake. I felt the same way with Sophie’s Choice - an idea alone is never enough to make something successful.

Still, Larson proves to be a strong lead and overall Room manages to turn the ‘kidnap’ idea into something thoughtful and unique. A cut above, and perhaps a worthy best picture nominee.

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