Tuesday, February 9, 2016

One Room, No View

I am told that there is a plethora of abductions going on in America these days. Perhaps that's why our phones are always getting hit with amber alert warnings.   I thought this was relegated to small children.   Well, apparently, adults can easily go missing as well.   There was one celebrated case where a woman was kept hostage for several years in Ohio.

"Room" owes its existence as a film to that lady and all the other folks who go missing for years at a time.  It's a compelling film that is very different from anything else you will see.   And it's a movie that is clearly elevated by the acting.  In this case, we're talking about Brie Larson as Jill and Jacob Tremblay as five-year-old son Jack.   They're both worthy of Oscar nominations but only Larson scored one.   She will likely win Best Actress.   Nevertheless, she and Tremblay command every inch of celluloid.

The "room" in question is a tool shed in the backyard of some lunatic who Jill must have been raped by.   He keeps her imprisoned there with an elaborate security code.  He visits her nightly to bring food and have sex.  As the story slowly unfolds, you realize that Jill has been cooped up there for some time.   And one of the sexual encounters produced her son Jack who shares space with her in confinement  Frankly, the square footage of this room is not bad and it's probably bigger than your average Manhattan studio apartment which sells for a half-million or so dollars.

You watch Jill and Jack as they go about the routine of life they have developed. Indeed, Jack has no concept of an outside world except for television.   His only clue that there is something beyond the room's four walls is through a ceiling skylight.  

Jill devises an escape plan to get Jack taken out of the room by the nut job in question and this sets up a harrowing ten-minute set piece that will rival Hitchcock in the suspense department.  It's not exactly a spoiler alert to tell you that they do get out of the room.   I mean, look at the poster above.   In fact, the confinement plot line only takes up the first half of the movie.   The entire second half is devoted to both Jill and Jack adjusting to life outside.   In the case of the young boy, it's a series of thrilling discoveries about parts of life which we take for granted.   For instance, for the very first time, he has to deal with the concept of going down a flight of stairs.

As fascinating as the first half of "Room" is, the second half tends to meander a bit and hit the same notes repeatedly.   Indeed, we see that Jill actually has a tougher time adjusting than her own son.   There are several spots where the film can be ended but it unfortunately goes on for twenty more minutes.   I also wondered throughout the movie why filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson never reference what Jill's parents did to try and find her when she disappeared.   It's a crucial bit of information that we never learn and it reduces the movie's effectiveness a smidgen.  

That said, the acting in the movie really shines and the young Jacob Tremblay's work probably rivals that of Patty Duke in "The Miracle Worker."   Admittedly, the subject matter might not be your cup of tea.   But, if you're not the slightest bit claustrophobic, "Room" might be just the right space for you.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Leftover antipasto salad.

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