500 Days Of Film Reviews Drama, Room, Starring Brie Larson And Jacob Tremblay


It is Jack’s fifth birthday and he is eager to start celebrating.


His Ma has promised him a very special day with a real, homemade birthday cake - Jack can hardly contain his excitement.


The cake is a success. But there are no candles. And there are no presents. Frustrated, Jack lashes out at his Ma. 


However, there are limitations in Jack's world. Many things are just not available to him. The reason? He and his Ma live within the confines of a small shed - a place that he calls Room. 

Is It Any Good?

Lenny Abrahamson's stunning film, Room, is based on Emma Donoghue’s gripping book (also called Room). 


I watched Room as part of Odeon’s Screen Unseen event. No one in the audience knew what was about to be screened until the BBFC certificate appeared.


I would have been happy with any film, to be honest, but I had heard great things about the performances in Room and so I was well pleased that this was the secret film of the night.


Not everyone shared my opinion, however. Five minutes in and four people left. I am, even now, wondering why. What were they hoping for? How could they tell so soon that this was a film they wouldn’t be able to stand?


Who knows… people even walked out of the Screen Unseen screening of Inside Out so there is really no accounting for taste.


I wonder if those walk outs were prompted by a fear of the harrowing film to come. That I can understand. The opening scenes of Room are claustrophobic and distressing. However, once Abrahamson has set his scene, Room becomes a surprisingly uplifting film experience. 



I loved Room. It is not the film that you think it is. Yes, there are deeply upsetting and unsettling scenes. Yes, I was in tears on several occasions. However, I also laughed much more than I thought I would.


The reason for this, given the circumstances, is Jack. Here is a five year old boy who, thanks to his mother’s imaginative spin on their situation, has no idea that he is living in a nightmare. 


Jack looks at his world with a sense of wonder and this, despite his limited experience, is often extremely inspirational. He may be a child, but his innocent outlook on life saves his Ma on more than one occasion.


Jack is played by Jacob Tremblay. I can’t imagine how Room’s filmmakers got such a wonderful performance out of such a young boy. He is just incredible in this movie. Hilarious and heartbreaking, vulnerable and yet fiercely resilient. He made me laugh and he made me cry - Tremblay's performance blew me away.    


The relationship between Ma and Jack is handled perfectly. The pair feel utterly natural together - even in the most unnatural of circumstances.


Director, Lenny Abrahamson, wanted to find an actress to play Ma who could handle the drama but who could also infuse the film with kindness and humour. He wanted to find someone who could bond with a child actor and make that young person feel secure.


He found that actress in the talented Brie Larson (Trainwreck, Short Term 12). She is phenomenal in this movie and will undoubtedly win many awards [Editor's note... Brie Larson did indeed win many awards for her role as Ma - including the Best Actress Oscar.]


Hers is not a showy performance. It is not all hysteria and hand wringing. It is quiet and calm, humorous and haunted. And that is no easy thing to pull off. Her expressions speak volumes - they show us what she has had to endure and how fiercely she will protect her son.



While Room is largely focused on Ma and Jack, it also features outstanding supporting performances.


It is fantastic to see Joan Allen again - she is so powerful in this movie. In addition, William H Macy shines in every second that he is on screen.


It would be easy to miss Room because of a fear about its harrowing plot. This would be a mistake as this film is much more than the sum of its set up.


I’ll admit that I was a bit of an emotional wreck after watching Room. But this film has (and will) stayed with me - not because of the horror, but for the wonder of a child’s inspiring outlook on life.


Random Observations

I absolutely love Odeon's Screen Unseen events. I would highly recommend them. It is fun to try to guess what the film will be from Odeon's social media clues. And then there is a real feeling of excited anticipation among the audience just before the film is revealed.


There is also something satisfying about seeing a film weeks in advance of its general release. 


I would love to know what the group of lads in my screening thought of Room. In the foyer before the film I heard them chatting. One of them snarled that this "better not be a girlie film". They seemed utterly convinced it was going to be boxing movie, Creed. Not quite...


If you have seen Room, I would love to know what you thought about this film.


Do let me know in the comments section below!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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