Few of us know at it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under us, to be trapped beneath the coils and suffocated from the inside out but Ma (Brie Larson) does. She’s spent the last seven years wrestling with that rug, tearing at its corners and unravelling its seams trying to find any possible way to keep sane. Then Jack (Jacob Tremblay) was born, and everything changed. She knew she had to get out. “ROOM” is the story of Ma and Jack overcoming the lengths of their captivity to return to the outside world and begin anew in the face of despair.
She was seventeen when it all happened, everything moving quickly, not more than a blur. Her life as she knew it would now cease to exist in the eyes of her parents, her friends, her beloved childhood pet. She was gone to the world as far as they knew, but in reality she was stowed away in a garden shed no more than 11 by 11 feet and forced to survive on nothing but cereal, a few slices of bread, some cheese, and maybe some sugar. At night, her kidnapper forces himself between the sheets of her bed, taking all that is left of her without a hint of malice. The days fade away slowly, disparity seeming more evident as she loathes another year of being trapped alone with a vicious psychopath. But when Jack is born, Ma is reborn.
On the advent of Jack’s fifth birthday, he craves for more than his cubby hole lifestyle provides. Ma is hesitant to ask more from their captor, ‘Old Nick’ (Sean Bridgers), afraid that Jack will become dependent on him. Jack nonetheless, gets what he asks for but is still troubled by Ma’s pensiveness. Unable to cope any longer, she hatches a plan to escape the garden shed using Jack, as bait. Hours later, their plan is set into motion and Ma and Jack re-enter the world, but for Jack, this world is something out of space. For everything he sees is new, untouched, and untainted by the millions that have been there before. Reconciled with her parents in the town where she grew, Joy is fragmented. She moves through the world with nightmares of her not so distant past like a boulder on the brunt of her shoulder. Jack meanwhile spends his time adjusting to the world beyond Room’s four walls yet, for them both; something remains reminiscent about a life without complications.
“Room”, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, stars the captivating Brie Larson as Ma and the effervescent Jacob Tremblay as Jack. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson written by Emma Donoghue, the pair is supported by Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Tom McCamus. The entire story is told through Jack’s perspective thus allowing Room to become a character in itself, allowing Jack to see nothing outside its four walls, offering Ma no relief beside its containments. Jack’s view of the world however, is the most nuanced aspect of this film.
“To experience the world with such innocence is a fable lost to us in adulthood. Through Jack, we can reminisce and appreciate what was once our most basic inhibitions.”
With the location for “Room” primarily set in a garden shed, the exterior set later in Toronto, much can be said about Abrahamson’s choice of shots. A subtle voyeurism erupts as we watch Ma and Jack muddle through the motions of their everyday waiting for the clock to strike, waiting for Nick to come in and rape Ma, disappearing like a sleuth in the dark of night when it’s all over. And though she can feel the familiar seams between her toes, the rug is never the same. It’s torn in some places, mended in others, but sown along its threads are the memories of a past never forgotten.