Take a Drink: for the tooth
Take a Drink: for the skylight, or the sky
Take a Drink: whenever somebody wants to cut Jack’s hair or assumes he’s a girl
Take a Drink: whenever Brie Larson goes bug-eyes
Do a (small) Shot: “Old Nick”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Lenny Abrahamson has quickly been building a reputation as a director of dark and finely detailed character pieces and standout central performances, especially last year’s Michael Fassbender-starring Frank and 2012’s What Richard Did, led by Jack Reynor.
Currently NotShia in the Transformers films
He’s poised to become a lot more recognized with Room, however, which boasts not one, but two electric headliners. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay star as mother (Ma) and son (Jack) locked in a single Room by a twisted sociopath. In fact, it’s all Jack has ever known, but at five years old he’s finally old enough to learn the truth- and help to escape it.
This story has many distinct layers, interested not just in telling a harrowing survivor’s tale, an examination of PTSD and the difficulty of adjusting to society after unimaginable trauma, and a mother and son tale of rare poignancy, but also as a resoundingly successful attempt at conveying the point of view of someone discovering the world for the first time.
It’s Ohio, which keeps that sense of wonder from overwhelming
Abrahamson accomplishes this through tight, sometimes difficult to watch closeups shot from Jack’s height, broadening and shrinking the film’s perspective as his understanding of the world around him evolves. He also deploys a nontraditionally slow, almost meandering pace, subtly manipulating our sense of chronology in a way that unsettles, but also feels true to life. The lack of music except for a few rapturous scenes completes the tableau.
Larson may not top her Short Term 12 performance, but is due to draw a lot more attention for this one, including an almost certain Oscar nomination (with odds on her to win). She is great at showing the lengths she’ll go to shield her son from their harsh reality, and the toll it takes on her, through small actions and gestures- avoiding the Lifetime Movie theatrics so many others would attempt.
Leave that to this crew
Joan Allen is somehow even more devastating in a small but pivotal role, but make no mistake- this movie belongs to Jacob Tremblay. We’ve been treated with some great child performances this century, but this one is the best. Full stop. He is fully the lead of Room, and to carry a role so alien to his real life at 8 years old, and by extension the movie, is truly incredible.
My wife was not a fan of Room, and I know why- this is some borderline comically dreary stuff. It never quite gets there, but two scenes almost do- Larson in hysterics asking her captor in the least convincing way to do something that would trip the suspicions of even the most trusting of psychopaths, and a late decision of hers that feels as predictable as it does depressing.
Outside of some questionable plot choices, Room delivers the Oscar goods, and one of the finest child performances ever put to film.