First Thoughts on Room

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I found myself in an odd situation when the buzz for Room started circulating. Firstly, it is one of the few rare movies where I have actually read the book before it is adapted. As much as I want to I don’t really read all that much, so when I hear that a book I’ve read is being turned into a movie it always sparks my interest. I absolutely loved the book, which I just happened to pick up off the shelf at WHS Smith one day and start reading. So naturally I was feeling somewhat apprehensive about the adaptation. Then I started to hear all about Brie Larson’s acting, and it was nominated at the Oscars, and Mark Kermode rated it highly, and it received a good review on  flickbox, and all the rest. It’s hard to describe, but although all the reviews were giving Room all sorts of praise, I had a bad feeling about it. I don’t know what it was, but the sorts of comments that were being made about it which were, although positive, made me feel like it was either typical Oscar-bait, or badly adapted, or worse – both. So weirdly, going into Room, I was wanting it to be really good, but expecting to be disappointed.

I wasn’t. Room is a special little film that I am surprised (but happy) is getting such mainstream attention. Lots of it feels very low budget and minimalist, but as you watch the movie, it becomes clear that the aesthetic is executed in a very premeditated and powerful way. The movie is held together by its two central performances, who put in a fantastic job. The relationship between them is written perfectly and, yes, Larson’s acting is top notch. The whole time I was watching Room, I was wondering whether she is actually a mother. After a quick search on Google, I am none the wiser. But I would find it difficult to believe that anybody could play a mother so convincingly without having been one themselves. If she doesn’t have any kids, then even bigger kudos to her because I completely bought in to the smallest of her facial expressions because I didn’t feel like I was watching someone act anymore. Her love for Jacob Tremblay’s character, Jack, felt authentic in every conversation, but so did her absolute desperation to escape, and her complete frustration when he doesn’t understand. The relationship between these two characters feels, if not quite realistic, certainly totally believable. This was partly due to the very well-written script which was adapted mostly by Emma Donoghue, the author of the book. She manages to capture the emotional edge that is prevalent in the books and write the relationship as no one else could.

It’s important that you believe in the relationship because that pins the entire movie together. I can also see that the movie is make or break based on whether you can stomach Trembley’s character. I could easily see him grating people in the way that a lot of child actors do – when they seem typecast or cliched. For me, though, I thought he was great and I felt like he was behaving like an actual five year old would – something that is hard to do. I thought his narration/voice over parts were very well done, too, and really gave you an insight into his mind.

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Before watching the movie, I was wondering how they would handle the sexual abuse scenes that are written so subtly and nuances in the book. Again, I was not disappointed.  This movie does a great job and making you see things from the eyes of a young child that, if handled by a different director or cast, might seem forced or stereotyped. It was a welcome relief to see a child actor doing the job well.

Anyway, those were my immediate impressions of Room. It’s a very impressive film. I don’t think it deserves to win an Oscar more than The Revenant (the only other Oscar-nominated film I’ve seen), but I do think it’s a great movie that should be watched by more people.

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