Tash Wright reviews this new release
Newly released Canadian-Irish film, Room, has left the population stunned at the life-affirming parable of parenthood in captivity presented as a modern-day horror story. Held captive for years in an enclosed space, a woman and her 5 year old son, finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time. Director, Lenny Abrahamson, transformed the novel, written by Emma Donoghue, into a heartbreaking cinematic experience, expressing the power of motherly love and of a nurtured child’s ability to find light in the darkness of the adult world.
Room opens with the sound of breathing, and vivid images of a simple room, home to the mother and son with the whispered words of ‘go back to sleep’. This space is the 10ft by 10ft sealed enclosure, in which five-year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) lives with his ‘Ma’ (Brie Larson), a young woman who fell into the grasps of ‘Old Nick’ when she was abducted seven years ago. For ‘Ma’, this is a prison, keeping her from the real world she knows all too well. Yet to Jack, Room is his entire life, a world that goes in ‘every direction, all the way to the end’. The film’s acute cinematography allows Room to seem as large to us as it does to Jack whom declares that ‘there’s Room, there’s outer space, then all the TV planets, then heaven’, highlighting his obliviousness to the real world that lies simply on the other side of Room’s walls.
Despite being inspired by unbelievable real life news stories, Room is neither deemed a crime/captivity film but instead, a story of how the human spirit can be forced to surpass their physical boundaries, questioning the extent of internal and external freedom. Writer, Emma Donoghue who received various critical acclaims for her heart-wrenching novel, gained inspiration for the story after hearing of the harrowing Fritzl case, in which Josef Fritzl imprisoned his eighteen year old daughter for twenty-four years, with the seven children she bore. The youngest of the children, five-year old boy, Felix, stirred Donoghue to explore the theme of captivity, written from the unique perspective of the naïve Jack.