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Viewers Escape Reality on Screen of Room

A scenario ripped from the newspaper headlines doesn’t always make for the most sincere or artistically creative novel let alone a film, but Room (2015) is about a five year old boy named Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay), and his Ma (played by Brie Larson), and captures their unbreakable bond as they were held hostage in a 10-by-10 foot garden shed.

The novel, Room, was published on Sept. 13, 2010  by Emma Donoghue, and was also adapted for screenplay by Donoghue, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson. The film version was nominated for best picture and won on Feb. 28. Larson also won Best Actress at the Oscars, and won Best Actress Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes.

Ma (Larson) was kidnapped by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) when she was only nineteen. She was held hostage in a garden shed for eight years and in that time she had her son, Jack. In the book Ma is 27 years old, and Jack is 5 years old. Therefore, Jack has only ever been in Room.

When the novel was adapted for film, Abrahamson was able to make that 10-by-10 foot shed feel a little less claustrophobic. As he described in an article on IndieWire.com,“Visually, shooting such a large proportion of a film inside a single, small room might seem like a problem — after all, don’t films rely on scale, movement, shifting locations and so on? In the case of ‘Room’ I have no worries. Room is small in dimension, but in meaning it is a fantastically rich, story filled and ritualized space.”  To prepare for filming in this tiny space, Larson actually went on a “silent retreat” where she lived in a small room and was reminded of her childhood living in a studio apartment with her family in LA.

The film is rated R for language, but it’s not as dark as one might expect. Instead of it focusing on how the two are being held hostage by Nick, it instead focuses on the mother-son relationship.

The book is told in Jack’s voice. He’s only five years old, so he’s still quite innocent. His mother shields him from any trauma by telling stories and playing games.


 

*SPOILER ALERT*

If you have not read the book or watched the movie yet then I suggest you stop reading this now.

In the book, you can infer that the mother wants desperately to get out, but she doesn’t openly express this to Jack. Instead she turns everything into a game for Jack’s sake. Before bed Ma turns the Lamp on and off multiple times (there is one solitary skylight in the middle of the ceiling). Jack thinks of this as a habit to help her sleep, but in reality she’s trying to see if anyone will see the flashing light and rescue them.

The idea of another game they play is that they stand on a table and scream towards the skylight. This is another attempt on the mother’s part to be saved, but Jack only thinks of this as lung stretching.

They also play a game where they make up as many number combinations as they can and enter them into the number keypad that keeps them locked inside Room.

There’s a television in Room (Jack refers to everything in Room including Room itself as proper nouns), and Jack, because he doesn’t grasp the concept of an outside world, believes that all the TV channels are different planets, like the cooking planet, wildlife planet, medicine planet, and, his favorite, cartoon planet.

Every night at 9 p.m., Jack has to go into what he calls Wardrobe. That’s where he sleeps because Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), the kidnapper, comes into Room and sexually abuses Ma. Ma, of course, wants to protect her son, so she makes Jack sleep in the wardrobe so they don’t see each other. Once Old Nick leaves, Ma puts Jack back into the bed with her.

Jack doesn’t understand that there’s anything besides Room. He thinks the only “real” people are him, his mom, and maybe Old Nick. But once Ma decides to finally tell him about Outside, Jack has a very hard time comprehending this concept. Together, Jack and Ma plan a great escape where Jack sneaks into the world and succeeds at leading the authorities to Ma inside the room. But that’s only half of the story.

Not only is the world new to Jack, but it’s new to Ma as well. She’s lived in Room for seven years. A lot changes in seven years. All of her friends are gone. Her parents are divorced. Press and paparazzi are everywhere. It was excruciatingly difficult for Ma to realize that she can’t just go home and pretend nothing ever happened.


 

 

I loved this book, as well as the film. The thing I liked the most was that it wasn’t just solely about their imprisonment in Room; it’s about Jack and Ma. It’s about their bond, their optimism through a tough situation, and how they work together to get out of a dangerous world and back into a new one.

As a general review of the plot, it kept me engaged and intrigued. Everything was very well planned and very consistent.

The movie followed the same exact path as the book. It is exactly how I pictured the book in my head. Since much of the dialogue is taken right from the novel, when I heard the characters talking, I felt like I was listening to the book on tape.

The actors and director all did an amazing job bringing the characters on the pages to life on the big screen.

Everyone should go out and see the film Room. It’s out of theaters, so you can rent it from Family Video. But regardless, make time to watch this movie.

The movie deserved an Oscar Award because it was one of those films that really strikes a nerve, but in the best way possible. It made me a more humble person, and it made me realize that I don’t need to live a big, elaborate lifestyle to be happy.

It’s unrealistic to just rely on materialistic things to maintain happiness, you have to make your own happy. And that’s the moral lesson I learned from a five year old!

 

Rating:

Movie: ★★★★★

Book:  ★★★★★

About Tyra Conrad

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