Cinema Cindy Reviews ‘Room’

By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
Los Alamos

“Room” is told from the perspective of a little boy named Jack (Jacob Tremblay). All he has known in the five years of his life is his “Ma” and the room in which they live. What is “real” is what he sees in “Room”. (What is on their TV is deemed “not real”.)

Movie poster for ‘Room’. Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater

Joy Newsome (Brie Larson), we learn, was abducted at the age of 17 and has lived seven years in this shed behind the house of “Old Nick”. The metal door is secured with a numerical code lock. She and Jack are given the food and supplies they need to survive and electricity to run a heater, lamp, toaster oven and stove. There is a bed, rug, kitchenette, sink, toilet and bathtub. This is Jack’s whole world. When Old Nick visits, Jack was always asleep in the wardrobe. But he is five now…

A series of suspenseful events lead to their release and eventual reuniting with Grandma and Grandpa, Joy’s long-suffering parents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy) and Grandma’s boyfriend, Leo. We see Jack’s world suddenly expand. Where the only places he knew before were Room and Space—which is everything outside Room—now there are many, many more places.

Jack has difficulty adjusting at first to “real” people in his life and will only interact with Ma. As he is drawn into the lives of Grandma and Leo, he opens up and his trust grows to include them. Joy, however, must deal with her new freedom from the very real horror of captivity. Her adjustment is far more painful than Jack’s.

Only Joy and Jack can know how they survived in Room. While Joy was seeking to cope, she created a fairy tale existence for young Jack. Indeed, his need of her kept her from succumbing to a despair of ever being rescued.

“Room” has been nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Lead Actress, Director and Adapted Screenplay. However, the film is hard to really enjoy; it is rated R for language, and for the theme—no child should see this one. As one watches the film, the reality is ever present—it is a horrendous thing, the undercurrent of Joy’s experience: abduction, rape and an undeserved seven years of solitary confinement. I would not recommend this film to everyone.

On the other hand, there is love, resurrection and hope in this film, a celebration of what is good in life and in the joy of childhood. Here is a mother who instills wonder and love in her child, despite their daily reality. The beauty of their relationship is what is “real” in this film, rather than Old Nick’s perversion of reality. We can wonder how Jack’s life will turn out when he gets older, but the point here is that Joy and Jack survived—they saved one another. Joy has intense healing ahead of her, but she did a great job raising young Jack. 

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