Film Review: Room

Room is an incredibly powerful film, both on its own terms as a harrowing story of a mother and her 5-year-old son trapped inside a single room for the boy’s entire life, and for its metaphoric weight (which I admit struck me as much as the surface story). Loosely based on one or more real-life stories, the situation is about a woman kidnapped by a man who confines her to a garden shed in his back yard, with the only window a skylight, to use for his sexual pleasures. The result after the first two years is a son, Jack, who grows up entirely confined to Room, as they call it. They have a TV, the images on which Jack regards as “outer space”, not real. Everything inside Room is unique: bed, sink, lamp. In the opening scene, Jack wakes one morning and says hello to each of them. Hello bed, hello sink.

As Jack turns five, his mother Joy tries to explain that some of things she told him earlier weren’t entirely true, but now that he’s old enough, he deserves to understand. There’s a real world out there; there’s another side to the walls of the room. He doesn’t get it, he’s confused, he screams “I want another story!”. [Narrative!]

It’s not giving much away to say that Jack’s and his mother’s life inside Room takes up only the first half of the film. This is the power of the story’s metaphor: Jack escapes. He sees the sky for the first time! He discovers a *real* world so much larger than anything he has imagined. He brings about the rescue of his mother, and they return to her parents’ home to try to resume normal life. The first night, his reaction is, can we sleep in the bed? In Room?

Part of the conflict is about Joy, the mother, who is struck by an interviewer question about why she didn’t have her captor try to take Jack away, for a better life outside Room. No; she never considered it — her bond as a mother was too strong — but this consideration leads to drastic doubts. And she renounces any recognition of her captor as the boy’s ‘father’. And part of the conflict is about Jack’s adjusting to the outside world, of course. How he misses Room, and its comforts. And the final scene.

Great film, and something I rarely do after watching a film, I’m ordering the novel it was based on, by Emma Donoghue, who did the screenplay for the film.

IMDb: Room
Wikipedia: Room (novel)
Wikipedia: Room (2015 film)

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