I will admit to knowing almost nothing of this movie before I saw it, and that without the nomination I would likely not have watched it until it was available digitally. Furthermore, once it was nominated I pretty much went in to radio silence and purposely ignored any reviews and articles as I wanted to make my own opinion. With that in mind, I promise to not give more away than I have to as Room is one of the most emotionally exhausting movies I have ever seen, and the less you know going in, the better.
In a nutshell, Room is the other side of the coin from 2013’s kidnap movie Prisoners and tells the story of a young mother who has been held captive in a shed for several years raising a son who has never seen the outside world. It’s a terrible story that we have heard too many times in the news over the last decade, and in many ways it is a wonder that it is only now being made into a movie. The plot follows the types of horrors that you would expect this kind of story to have, but is made interesting by how they are interrupted my very real moments of sweetness between the mother and her son as they survive and grow in this hellish existence. The mother, played by Oscar-nominee Brie Larson, does everything she can to shield and protect her 5 year-old son Jake from both the reality of their situation and the man who put them there, and the weight of this which she carries shows in every scene.
Usually, I prefer not to get into the debates about the quality of someone’s acting but this performance is going to be pretty hard to beat. Oscar voters love unglamorous and challenging roles and Brie Larson runs the whole range in this one. On top of that, the performance by the young Jacob Tremblay as the son, Jake is amazing and actually makes the movie. I will be very surprised if she doesn’t take home the award on Oscar night, and we are sure to see a lot more from both of these actors. Between Brie Larson, and the also nominated Jenifer Lawrence and Saoirse Ronan, there is definitely a new generation in charge.
On a different note, there is one more star of the movie that is worth mentioning – Toronto! For anyone familiar with the city, you will definitely see the Canadian connection as Toronto stands in for Akron, Ohio. The Bloor viaduct, the Nathan Philips Square Ice Rink, and the Beaches boardwalk are all very easily seen if you know them, and it is awesome to see a homegrown film playing in the big leagues.
Going into Room, I didn’t know what to think, and coming out, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It is a seemingly simple film that appears to be very straight-forward, but it is actually very overwhelming and will surely stay with you for a while afterwards. When it was over, no one in the theatre – myself included – stood up for at least a minute. Will it win Best Picture on Oscar night? I don’t know. Is it a definite must watch? Absolutely!