Dir: Lenny Abrahamson (2015)
Oscar comes knocking for Lenny Abrahamson and the cast of his latest effort; Room is a pitch black but ultimately uplifting tale on motherhood and, some may say, depression told through the eyes of woman and her son held captive in a tiny garden shed. Adam & Paul and Garage both made a star out of Abrahamson with dark whimsy, the grim realisation of What Richard Did, turned off the light a little while the very off the wall Frank well and truly brought it back and made Abrahamson a bit of an international name.
Room absolutely proves the director on the world stage and could guarantee a statuette for the excellent Brie Larson. She plays Joy a young woman, taken from the world by a monstrous man dubbed “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). Joy spends her day’s keeping up a lovingly crafted charade with her son, Jack (an equally mesmerising Jacob Tremblay) as they try their best to deal with their tiny reality. But as Old Nick’s nightly visits increase and the out side world begins creep in Joy realises a plan of escape.
Room is loaded with questions about the relationships between mothers and sons, the resilience of youth and the little white lies we tell each other. It’s intense in its claustrophobia but as Abrahamson and Emma Donoghue (adapting her own novel for the screen) develop two oddly different paths for their characters in the second half, Room finally lets its audience come up for air. Tremblay and Larson’s chemistry is undeniably the glue in this cramped space and outside of it with the writer and director as infatuated with the freedom as they are captivity.
When does youth end and adulthood begin? What things and places hold us captive? As a commentary on our world it is certainly a thought provoking and deeply uncomfortable exercise. As a horror film, which it plays as in more than a few different ways, its not quite as powerful as something like Markus Schleinzer‘s Michael but its two leads are a revelation and Abrahamson’s film is as deserved a gong winner as any this year.