There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

La la la continuing through older movies. Oscar movies, even! So I didn’t see this movie until I was getting ready for the Oscars, and I wanted to see all the main films. I couldn’t get through the Revenant, so don’t expect conversation about that, but I did see this one. And boy did it hurt. This is an agonizing film to watch. It’s uplifting in some ways, I guess, but it’s still brutal. We’ve heard these stories in the news,¬†where a man kidnaps one or more women and traps them, raping them for years. There’s no way to talk about this film without discussing PTSD and rape, so trigger warning. And also trigger warning if you want to watch the film, because it is really intense. I think it’s important to know that the screenwriter is also the person who wrote the book, because I always feel like the adapted movies do better when written by the author. Brie Larson was just cast as Captain Marvel, one of my favorite superheroines, so this film was a good breakout role for her.

Room is told mostly from the POV of Jack, a five year old who has only lived in one room for his entire life. Because his mother, Joy, was kidnapped by a man named Old Nick when she was still a teenager. He’s been keeping her locked up in that room for all those years, raping her regularly, until she had Jack. He’s kept mostly innocent about the horribleness of their situation, and Joy tries her best to keep sane for herself and for her son. She realizes there might be a chance they can get out. She pretends Jack has died of illness, after Old Nick refuses to take him to the hospital, and rolls him up in a carpet. While driving away he escapes. Old Nick almost manages to put him back in the car, as passerbys come to check on the boy, but Jack screams enough that they realize something is wrong. He is taken in by police custody and tries to help them find where his mother is being held. Old Nick has panicked and tried to run, so they do get Joy safely out and back out into the world. Jack is extremely overwhelmed because all this time Joy has tried to keep him innocent by telling him there is no outside world and it’s all just fake on the TV. Now he is thrown into the reality of the world for the first time and it’s intense.


Joy’s parents Nancy and Robert reunite with their daughter and grandson. However Robert can’t handle the fact that he has to put up with Jack, who he sees as a representation of the awful things his daughter was put through. By then her parents have divorced and her mother remarried, and Joy and Jack stay with them for a time. But Joy starts going through a deep depression, especially due to all the cameras and questions thrown her way. One interviewer on TV asks her if she ever thought of getting Jack out, like up for adoption, Old Nick could’ve dropped him off somewhere. And she’s horrified by that idea and maybe it would be the right thing to do. Either way, Joy can’t handle what’s going on and tries to commit suicide. She’s put into care for a time, and gets the help she needs, while Jack gets close to his grandmother and even makes a friend. Joy comes back and Jack asks to see Room again. They return to the Room and see how tiny it is, and there’s something in them that heals from that visit.

This is a powerful film with very strong performances. Brie obviously got the Oscar for it, and her portrayal is so intense and painful. You can only stand by and witness Joy’s very real terror and pain. Her love for her son despite how it all happened is an incredible thing. Jack’s innocence and kindness is a credit to that, really, and he’s played adorably by new actor Jacob Tremblay. He’s remarkably talented for his age, wow! The writing for his narrative is great in the sense that you believe this is a kid talking, and a kid’s perspective on his world. Of course as an adult it’s nightmare fuel. I also loved Joan Allen’s Nancy, because you really see the agony of a mother who lost her daughter, got her back, deals with having kind of given up, and with Jack’s presence in their life. This is tough material. It’s mentally exhausting and fascinating at the same time. It hurts to watch, especially the scenes in the beginning where you see how suffocatingly small their world is, and see the disgusting and creepy attitude of Old Nick. It’s a difficult film, but an important one too, which is why I think it got nominated for several big Oscar awards. I’m not sure I’d recommend it unless you know what you’re getting in for and get ready for it. For people easily triggered I would not, even though the performances are incredible and the script tight and well done. But if you can stomach it, watch it.

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