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The breadth of our world only extends as far as we allow it. Those who on the surface seem well traveled may be some of the most confined – yet someone who lie physically confined, may be one of the most traveled. Children often are best suited to juggle this delicate balance. There is something both fascinating and admirable with how a child is able to view his or her world. Minute items are given a tremendous weight of importance. Physical boundaries are deemed non-existent, as the imagination runs supreme. A child’s mind is devised to view within a simplistic spectrum. It is not until the complexities and the externalities of the outside world plan its inevitable invasion that the suppression of the imaginative sense begins. On one hand, the mind is able to grow in density with the influx of new variables and new information; however, on the other, the boundaries become more defined. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and led with performances by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay as the mother-son duo, Room understands this intricate evolution. What results is a beautifully honest, yet utterly horrifying film that may be one of this year’s best.
Room is foreign to us. We learn about its composition as if one were to handle a baby bird. Each fact is divulged with the utmost precision and carried to us within a delicate grasp. While we are told very little, what is provided to us is very meaningful.
Jack is five years old. He knows that Room was not always the world. Although due to forces beyond his grasp, it is now his universe. Jack is aware of Room’s limitations, yet he remains focused within its imaginative possibilities. Room has other inhabitants. There are Ma, Lamp, Plant, Sink and let’s not forget TV. Even Old Nick will pay them the occasional visit; sometimes with supplies and presents, if Jack is so fortunate. All have their role in Room. To Jack, Room is his safety blanket.
To Ma, Room is a perpetual purgatory. It is a constant reminder that the beauties of her past are becoming slowly overshadowed by the horrors of her present. However, while Room may be her nightmare, it is the comforting dream for Jack. It’s her job as a mother to portray Room as being more than a home, but to ensure that it never becomes his home. It is Room and it will remain that way. To do so, she must keep Jack’s innocence and his imaginative sense intact. These are critical in making Room’s physical boundaries somewhat opaque. While Ma did not take part in the building of the structure, she is Room’s creator.
Lenny Abrahamson is to be commended for his ability to feverishly swing balances of power yet mask these sporadic shifts with glimpses of innocent beauty. Abrahamson presents Room to us in the form of an Iceberg. We know that much of what we see is covered. Guided by remarkable performances from Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as Jack, we are seated at the division between childhood and adulthood. It is a viewpoint like no other; one that catalyzes self-perception. There are times that the film may feel a bit scripted. However, take a step back and remember how it was to comprehend as a child. Children expound off of scripted thought. Placing this conceptually within the film pictorializes the genius of Abrahamson, Larson and Tremblay within their respective craft.
Brie Larson was phenomenal in her role in Short Term 12. However, her characterization of Ma is so complex that it transcends to the audience. Jacob Tremblay provides an aura of innocence that keeps the film compact. Cameo performances from Joan Allen and William H. Macy as Ma’s parents further refine the film. The composition of this film is so intricately unique. There will only be one Room.
There is something special that occurs inside the mind of a child. Though the thought processes appear simplistic, they are littered with complexities. These opposing inner workings submerged within such a horrific tale will peel away all excess facades and expose only the most grave vulnerabilities. Room will pry at your emotional fortitude; but if you rid yourself of all externalities and focus on the more simplistic core, it is a strength that should be tested.