by Jordan Canahai
I wouldn’t blame some audience members for walking out during the first hour of Room; the Canadian-Irish independent drama-thriller is so depressing and difficult to watch that many won’t want to endure it. Thankfully, the film’s second-half proves just as inspiring and rewarding as its early moments were gut-wrenching and painful. Based loosely on a real-life case, it’s the story of a young woman (Brie Larson) who’s been kidnapped, held captive for seven years in a claustrophobic room, and raped repeatedly, which has left her with a five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay). After they finally escape from their brutal captivity and take shelter with the boy’s grandmother (Joan Allen), the young woman must cope with post-traumatic stress while the boy begins to experience the outside world for the first time in his life. The end result, to quote one of my close friends upon leaving a screening, is one of those rare and wonderful films that comes along and suddenly makes other movies feel cheap in comparison. Lenny Abrahamson—whose previous feature, the darkly-comic fantasy Frank, also dealt with social alienation (albeit in very different ways)—ably directs Emma Donoghue’s script adapted from her own novel. Larson gives a brave, fearless performance, proving even more impressive here than in the astonishing Short Term 12, cementing herself as one of the best actresses of her generation. She’s matched by equally strong work from newcomer Tremblay, whose performance never teeters too heavily towards sentimentality. Room is a small-scale triumph in every way, and like Brooklyn, one of the best films of the year.
Watch the trailer for Room
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