Monday, March 21, 2016
To See the World in a 10 by 10 Shed...
To see the world in a 10 by 10 shed… Five year old Jack believes that the Room is his entire world; it went in “every direction, all the way to the end.” Danny Cohen’s cinematography is scintillating; through his lense work, we see Room just as Jack does – the toilet cistern is a sea where paper boats float, the underneath of the bed is a cave where the eggshell snake resides and the wardrobe is a safe haven, where Jack sleeps. Jack believes since he and his Ma are inside, along with the sink, the toilet, the bed and wardrobe, they are real, the outside world is the outer space, inhabited by angels, aliens and Old Nick, who replenishes their food and other necessities. This is an intricate and detailed fairytale, formulated by Ma so that Jack does not realize that they have been living in captivity; Jack was born in this confinement.
Room is based on the eponymous novel by Emma Donoghue, who based the story on similar real life crimes of Jaycee Dugard and Josef Fritzl. Lenny Abrahamson brought alive the splendid script, penned by Donoghue herself and transformed it into a complex tale. It is a tale of terror, of endurance, perseverance and patience, of the resilient loving bond shared by a parent and child during the most unbearable of circumstances.
Ma is Joy Newsome played by Brie Larson who had been abducted seven years ago as a seventeen year old by Old Nick and has been kept as a sex slave ever since. Locked in his sound proof garden shed, with a combination key manning the heavy steel door, Joy subsequently gives birth to her son, Jack portrayed adorably by Jacob Tremblay. Room has an agonizingly chilling look about it; it is crowded and grey, cramped in with a toilet, a bathtub, a TV, a tiny kitchen and bare minimum furniture. There is a skylight at the roof of the shed, which remains out of reach for both Ma and Jack, and is the only source of sunlight inside Room. It also provides Ma with a glimpse of the world that she once was a part of, the idea of which Jack grapples to accept, when Ma tries to explain of a life outside Room. The first half of the movie revolves around the bond that Ma and Jack shares. He is a bright, enthusiastic, well-spoken five year old, who is also an avid fan of Dora the Explorer. To some extent he is well versed with pieces of literature like Alice, the Count of Monte Cristo, Jack the Giant Killer and Samson, the legendary long haired hero with whom he draws comparison with himself. Ma tries to keep Jack healthy by turning fitness regimes into fun games; his well-being is the sole focus of her existence. That is how she survives the recurrent night time visits by Old Nick. It is a ritual bound by time, as we see Ma hurriedly bundle off Jack to a makeshift bed inside the wardrobe before Old Nick barges in. Jack however remains awake during most of these encounters, which are loud, but we share his limited perspective of them, which further makes them petrifying and unnerving for the audience.
Room is not a thriller or a movie about the crime, it is about the human spirit that transcends boundaries and perils to showcase the intermittent struggle between external and internal freedom. When Joy realizes that Old Nick will get more dangerous especially in the aftermath of his unemployment, she takes her young son into confidence, and formulates a plan of escape from Room. I give no spoiler alert because the trailer shows it all. But what I do say is that what follows next is best to be watched, culminating in a successful outcome. However Joy struggles to connect with the world outside, once outside Room. Her behavior in contrast to Jack’s who is blooming in the new environment, and is almost like that of a petulant child. Jack’s experiences widen as he walks down the stairs for the first time, experiences a brain freeze from having ice-cream for the first time, pats a dog for the first, but most important of all, finds a friend in the next door kid for the first time. He especially flourishes under his grandmother’s guidance, portrayed brilliantly by Joan Allen. When he finally does decide to “cut his strong”, he asks for her help and later shyly tells her that he loves her. That is one of the most Awwww moments of the movie.
Brie Larson won the Oscar in the best actress category. Together with her young co-star Jacob Tremblay, the duo creates an enchanting world that mesmerizes the audience with their powerful acting repertoire. Nine year old Tremblay does a brilliant job in expressing the tenacious resilience of childhood. He is a trusting child, with an essential sense of optimism. Larson as the resourceful, perseverant, ever watchful mother, who struggles to cope later, presents a surreal picture of both a victim and a survivor. Room is a powerful imaging of an exceptional situation; it evokes a sense of optimism in the most unfavorable of circumstances.