— Posted by Alyssa
Sometimes we figuratively create barriers around ourselves. However, it’s another thing entirely to see literal walls forcing imprisonment. It’s extraordinary to see how human adaptability and strength can make a small world seem huge. That is precisely how it feels inside Room, an infectious, beautifully-crafted marvel that shows the resilience of human nature and the value of being able to journey outside of the box.
Joy (an astounding Larson) has been trapped inside a suburban garden shed since the age of 17 when she was abducted by a predatory, seemingly normal man who goes by Old Nick. Joy shares this backstory with her son Jack (Tremblay, a force to be reckoned with) when he is five years old. Joy gave birth to Jack after being in captivity for two years. Her son is a ray of light in Joy’s otherwise soul-crushing existence. He personifies Room and makes it a place that he shares with his mother. It is the only world he knows. Even though Jacob is happy inside of Room, Joy shares with him all that exists outside of their walls. She tells him that part of the world he sees on TV is actually real. Jack, knowing only the walls that surround him, is naturally skeptical of this “imaginary” world. However, Joy is able to convince him of its existence. The outside world offers a reality where he no longer only has to have gifts on Sunday, and he can have a room that isn’t inside of a wardrobe. In order to escape, Joy has to devise a risky scheme that temporarily separates her from her son. This scheme proves worth it when Joy and Jack are able to receive the help they need. Joy believes that she will find happiness in her escape. However, the psychological damage caused by Room proves to take a toll on Joy’s joy. The walls also exist inside of her head. Now she’s caught in a crossroads. She needs to learn how to be a mother outside of the shed and allow her son to have a life away from her. He needs separation from his mother in order to grow into the bigger space that he is now afforded.
As much as this is a suspenseful, gripping film, it also has interesting commentary on motherhood, childhood, adulthood, and the nature of growing within the walls of all three. We are confined to our roles in all three states of being once we cross certain thresholds. How are Joy and Jack supposed to function when their growth was literally confined? In the hands of lesser performers and writers, this could have easily been an exploitative film for those who are hypnotized by the evening news. But thanks to the transformative performances and convincing chemistry of Larson and Tremblay, as well as the sharp writing by Room’s novelist Emma Donoghue, Room is a profound, gripping character study that will resonate with its viewers.