Imagine spending your entire life in just one room. That’s all you know. The outside world is alien to you. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? This is Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) reality. He’s only ever known life within those four walls; trapped inside the world he calls “Room”.
This 10ft x 10ft sealed enclosure is where the five-year-old lives with his Ma (Brie Larson). Little does he know that Ma was abducted seven years ago. For Ma “Room” is a prison, but for Jack it is his everything. “Room” is an entire world that goes in “every direction, all the way to the end”. Thanks to Danny Cohen’s superb cinematography, “Room” seems as large to us as it does to Jack.
With a great deal of love and determination Ma has transformed this living heel into fairytale for her son. Jack has no knowledge of the outside world. For Jack “there’s Room, there’s outer space, then all the TV planets, then heaven”. I don’t know which is worse, Ma knowing everything that awaits them in the outside world and unable to get them there, or Jack who doesn’t know that any of it exists.
When their captor “Old Nick” turns his violent attentions from Ma to Jack she quickly realises that something has to be done. Ma tried to escape her prison in the early days of her imprisonment. But now she has a wily accomplice to help her.
Ma decides to tell Jack the truth about the world. She explains how vast and beautiful it is, and that if they can reach Grandma’s house they will be safe. So the duo hatches an escape plan.
Jack plays dead and Ma insists that Old Nick take him away to be buried. Jack is wrapped in an old rug and loaded into the villain’s pickup. When it comes to a halt Jack makes his daring escape. Everything is so big and Jack can’t comprehend the world around him, but somehow he finds the strength and courage to help the police find Ma.
Eventually the duo are reunited. But it quickly becomes clear that they are struggling to adapt. So much has happened since Ma was kidnapped. Time has moved forwards but she can’t force herself to do the same. As we witness Jack taking those all-important first steps on unfamiliar terrain we get a glimpse into his overwhelming new reality.
Brie Larson and seven-year-old Jacob Tremblay are nothing short of perfect as the duo around which this heart-breaking universe revolves. We see the world through their eyes and it’s terrifying and beautiful at the same time.
Room is an unexpectedly life-affirming tale of parenthood disguised as a modern-day horror story. The thrilling adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed novel explores the power of motherly love and a child’s ability to find light in the darkest situations.
By Ruth Walker