This is one of the greatest worst movies I have ever seen, starring Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote, produced, edited, directed and presumably gave birth to this film through his artificial womb, “The Room” is about a group of guys who, I assume, know nothing other than to toss a football around in tuxedos and…
Wait…Sorry, wrong room.
To be honest though, every time I’ve heard people discuss Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room,” the first thing that comes to mind is Tommy Wiseau’s strangely detached character screaming, “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” This is unfortunate, since “Room” has one of the greatest mother-son relationships in cinema, and proves to lift itself above the depressing scenario into a truly hopeful and optimistic film.
Jack (Jacob Tremblay) wakes up on his fifth birthday to his universe – a tiny room with little more than a bed, a wardrobe, a rug and a toilet. His mother, Joy (Brie Larson), has decided to bake Jack a birthday cake with the few supplies they’ve been given by “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). Every night, Old Nick pays Joy a visit, forcing Jack to sleep in the wardrobe.
But soon after, Joy puts her faith in Jack now that he’s five years old and tells him the truth. There is a whole world outside of Room, not just empty space like she had told him a long time ago. Joy was kidnapped by Old Nick seven years ago, forced into Room, a tiny tool shed converted into this makeshift home, and she has no way of getting out without knowing the code. Joy needs Jack’s help in getting out of this hole, but Jack is unsure about leaving the only world he has ever known.
When I heard about the story for “Room,” I was immediately turned off. It sounded like a depressing tale of an innocent young woman being forced away from her home to be little more than a slave, while making her son become a part of this world as well. But what I got instead was a film that nearly made me cry at how these two were able to take these shriveled husks of lemons life has given them and turned it into the sweetest lemonade you have ever tasted.
Jack lives a happy and most carefree life, as he tells these elaborate stories about every object in Room. From the vast ocean in the top of the toilet, to his hand-crafted egg-snake being the longest creäture in the universe. Jack is content with living the rest of his life inside Room, because his imagination is able to run wild in this place. In place of knowledge of the outside world is a bottomless pit of enthusiasm and excitement over what the day will bring next.
As for his mother, Joy is constantly haunted by this existence, but finds a way to be optimistic for the sake of Jack. We learn later in the film that she had no purpose in life until Jack came along, giving her a reason to fight and hope that tomorrow would be the day she would finally escape and allow her son to experience a worthwhile life. This is anchored by Brie Larson’s performance, who is haunting at times in her vacant stares, as though she’s been drained by the last seven years, but still finds the energy to play with Jack.
Most of “Room” is shown from Jack’s perspective, as we hear his inner monologue explaining the situation as if he were a knight fighting a dragon, with extravagant details as though from classic literature. His childhood innocent not only elevates the story, but gives the film its added punch when Joy tells Jack the truth and we watch as reality shatters and is replaced by love for his mother.
What I’ll remember the most about “Room” (aside from the disappointing lack of Tommy Wiseau’s sweet love-making), is its constant need to look for the light inside of a dangerously dark situation. It is as if we’re watching a sequel to a much grittier tale, like “Gone Girl” or “The Gift,” only now our characters have clawed their way through tragedy and find a sliver of hope, and cling to that with a vice grip.
Overall, “Room” is one of the most uplifting films of the year, held together by performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, along with spectacular direction by Lenny Abrahamson. Credit must be given to the cinematography, for making the room feel tiny and claustrophobic at times, while others it is vast and almost endless. We are given a film about the acceptance of being trapped, yet never giving up on the fight for freedom.
Final Grade: B+