Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel with the same name
Brie Larson as Ma
Jacob Tremblay as Jack
Sean Bridgers as Old Nick
Joan Allen as Nancy
William H. Macy as Robert
Lenny Abrahamson's Room grabs attention from the opening frame, and the first hour ranks as some of the best directed sequences of the year. Locked in the dismal and confined shed of the man who stole her seven years prior is Ma, who has made a somewhat stable life built on repetition and fantasy following the birth of her son Jack. Having told Jack that there is nothing outside the space of these four walls, dubbed Room, Ma has to quickly educate him about reality when a chance to escape presents itself. On the outside, the pair try to adjust to life outside of Room while also darkly yearning for the blissful ignorance of confinement. Abrahamson's direction of the "Room" sequences are somewhat masterful, beautifully capturing Ma's existential angst at being locked away and Jack's childlike sense of wonder of only knowing this world. Because of this, the space of "Room" is depicted as both microscopic and infinite, and Abrahamson's skill at mediating between the two visions of it place him as one of the most interesting directors working today, and front and center is Brie Larson's lyrical performance as Ma, who also is forced to mediate between the calming and educative attitude of mother and the frightened and plotting one of the kidnapped little girl. And so the second half of the film is a bit of a disappointment and the reintegration into society section feels underdeveloped and tacked on, almost a completely different movie. This makes sense due to the drastic lifestyle switch of the two, and the jarring shift in tone makes the viewer feel a dark yearning for "Room" almost as much as the characters, but it just does not feel as powerful of visceral. However, the effects this half has on the final scene is tremendous, putting into amazing perspective what Abrahamson has done in depicting "Room".
As young Jack, Ethan Tremblay is somewhat grating and his more emotional scenes do not have the amazing control of Larson, but this is to be expected. Abrahamson is clever with the camera in reenforcing how new everything is to Jack, particularly in the terrific escape scene where he is given birth metaphorically. His first glimpse of the sunlight is as piercing for the viewer as it is for him. As Ma's parent, Joan Allen and William H. Macy are fairly restrained, though some more meat for the Macy character would have been welcomed. But not he whole, Room is a heartbreaking, sometimes brutal, often brilliantly shot drama, and Lenny Abrahamson continues to fascinate.