Room is our latest review here on Upstream. We search out new, overlooked, or forgotten offerings on all of the streaming services available to help you make a decision on what to watch. Room stars Brie Larson as Joy/Ma, a role that won her numerous awards including the Best Actress Oscar in 2016, and Jack Tremblay (The Predator, Before I Wake) as her son Jack. This film was absolutely riveting and played out in such a way that is unexpected. I’ll get more into that, hopefully without too many spoilers, but to discuss this film at any length spoilers cannot be avoided…as you’ll see below. If you want to skip all of this, go watch the Room NOW! It is amazing and well worth a slot in your evening’s viewing line up.
Not to be confused with the 2003 cult classic The Room, Room is the story of a young woman who has been kidnapped and held for years in a small 10 x 10 room she shared with her 5 year old child Jack. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) delivers a powerful performance as Ma. To prepare for the role, Brie sequestered herself at home for a month with no internet or phone and adhering to a limited diet to get a sense of the isolation Joy went through. She is almost unrecognizable in this part wearing little to no makeup and completely immersed in the depression of her character. Her co-star is 8 year old Jack Tremblay, who brought a grounding sense of reality to this movie. Jack did not feel like a Hollywood portrayal of a child, but more like a real everyday kid. This movie would have sunk if not for his convincing delivery of the material. A bit about that, the screenplay was written by Emma Donoghue based on her 2010 novel of the same name. While the story bears some similarities to the case of Amanda Berry who was kidnapped and held for years by Ariel Castro and bore a child while in captivity. Those similarities are purely coincidental, since Emma Donoghue’s novel was published three years before Castro’s crimes were discovered.
Now here is where some of the real SPOILERS come in, so you have been warned! I loved the way this movie turned the whole three act movie on it’s ear. Out went the “Set up, confrontation, resolution” formulae and in came something I have long waited to see a movie do. I’ve always been a bit frustrated with movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. By that I mean you sit there for one and a half to two hours watching this huge build up and then the movie just ends once it gets to the best part. Sure it’s interesting to see all the set up of how these people are all drawn to where the aliens are going to land, but the movie just ends once they enter the spaceship…I want to know what happens NEXT!!! That is the really interesting part! Room does exactly that, this isn’t just a movie of Ma and Jack surviving captivity and biding time until the movie climaxes with their eventual escape. Room takes you beyond the escape and explores what happens to the characters after they gained freedom. Without a doubt, this movie is very difficult to watch. Hardcore subject matter is dealt with in an almost routine way which makes it all the more terrifying. Can you imagine your life becoming a reoccurring nightmare that you must endure in silence all to protect your child suffering further trauma from an already impossible situation? It is troubling to even think about. There is one small nod to the novel right at the end, and this is only a spoiler for the book as this part was not mentioned in the movie. Jack requests that Joy take him back the “room” so he can say goodbye. Reluctantly she agrees and is allowed access to the location of her former prison. Outside of the shed where she was held is a mall excavator that has dug up part of the backyard. I’m pretty sure this is in reference to Ma’s previous pregnancy where the baby did not survive long after birth and was buried. Again, this movie deals with hard hitting trauma with very few “feel good” moments to break things up, but it is a powerful story told through captivating performances of it’s cast. I highly recommend watching it.