Room – a film about a kidnapped young woman trying to create a universe for her son within one tiny room and what happens to that universe when the walls fall, revealing the “real” world.
“This is a bad story.”
“Sorry. I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have told you.”
“No, you should,” I say.
“I don’t want there to be bad stories and me not know them.” Room – Emma Donoghue.
For me that quote from the book sums up Room – wisdom masquerading as innocence and how to find innocence when you think it is lost.
I read Room last year, and probably because I absolutely loved it, I didn’t review it. I find it very difficult to sum up the things I love. I can go on and on and on about why I didn’t like something, but trying to pin down in adequate terms why I DID like something is almost impossible for me.
I should probably do something to change that.
I shall start by trying to talk about the film adaptation of Room.
In Room we meet Jack and Ma, living as best they can in the barricaded garden shed of Ma’s abuser. At 17 Ma was abducted and has been kept locked up in her dingy surroundings for the last 7 years. Jack is the product of just one of the regular rapes Ma suffers at the hands of her abductor, Old Nick.
Jack knows nothing of the outside world, all he knows are the objects in the room and the stories on TV (that are definitely not real). Cats, trees, cars – these are things that only exist within the flickering screen of the television – they are not real in any other sense. As far as Jack knows the world is Room, then there is Skylight, then there is Heaven. And that’s it.
Jack also couldn’t be happier.
I know a lot of people have been put off by the idea of this film, thinking it to be some morbidly fascinated look into the world of a Fritzl-esque captive but it couldn’t be further away from that. It certainly has its dark moments, but this is a film about love, motherhood and what it means to be free.
Jacob Tremblay as Jack is utterly spellbinding to watch and I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how a 9 year old was able to bring such depth of emotion to a role so huge and life-affirming. However he did it, he did it amazingly. As did Brie Larson who captured Ma’s struggle to be hopeful and cheerful for her son in a situation as bleak as you could possibly imagine with grace and verve.
And the old “ah, but is it as good as the book?” debate? Yes, very much so. That might have something to do with the fact Emma Donoghue wrote the screenplay, and her characters remained as captivating and fleshy on screen as they did on the pages. Everything about Room the film was exactly how I had pictured it in Room the book, and its not often you can say that.
You definitely must go and see this film – there is so much more to it than the depressing abuser/abused, true-crime movie its been misinterpreted as.
This film is thick with joy and love; the relationship between Jack and Ma totally enveloped me and I’m hard pushed to think of anything else I have seen or read recently where I root so much for the characters. I left the cinema with a broken and mended heart, determined to look at the world with fresh eyes, to be a little less cynical and to try writing about something I like…