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Room (2015)

February 20, 2016

Starring: Brie Larsen, Jacob Tremblay
Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Bottom Line: Imagine being born in a shack, growing up within those confines, and having no concept of your situation or the outside world. You have T.V., food, a man that stops by to deliver groceries and lay with your mother while you sleep in the closet… but as far as you know, this is all there is to life. That’s the premise of Room, where a woman is kidnapped at age 17, raped, impregnated, and held in captivity for years after giving birth. She decides to raise her son in a way that makes him ignorant and tolerant of his living conditions. “Room” is all he knows – he’s five years old and he’s never set foot outside the shack he lives in.

Brie Larsen gives a stunning performance as the mom in Room. Possibly the best performance of any 2015 film that I’ve seen so far. She sends her character through the gamut of emotions, all while making it seem effortless. I noticed Larsen’s ability to make her acting seem natural in Trainwreck earlier in 2015, but her performance in Room is a true tour-de-force – and she makes it seem so natural. I’m blown away by Brie Larsen in this movie. Her character took a situation that is undoubtedly terrifying and disgusting – captivity and constant rape – and somehow made it seem like we weren’t really watching a scary movie – just the atmosphere she wants her son to think he lives in. In that way Room reminded me a bit of Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful, where a Jewish father in a concentration camp pretends that their situation is a game for the benefit of his son.

Jacob Tremblay also gives a great performance in this movie. Perhaps overshadowed by Larsen’s amazing work, Tremblay offers the best child performance I’ve seen in years.

I don’t believe that it’s a spoiler to mention that the captives in Room eventually escape and a big portion of the movie centers on the son discovering that there’s a world outside of the shack. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this section of the movie – I thought the child’s wonder would be a bit more interesting, but the second half of the movie focuses more on the mother adapting to a life outside of captivity and dealing with the media aspects of being an escaped hostage. Still, I found Room plenty enjoyable and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Room is one of the best films of 2015 – a gritty must see that features an absolute knockout performance from Brie Larsen.

Replay Value: I’m looking forward to watching it again with my wife. I think I could like it more the second time.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Nominated for four big Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Brie Larsen should be a virtual lock for an Oscar.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Must See/Excellent)

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