There are spoilers here.
The jaunty music rang out across the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as the 87th Academy Awards were in full swing this past February. The song perhaps grated against the usual swell of classic film scores and elegance that populated grand events such as this. For keen ears, it is the music that was uttered softly, in hushed pain, from the winner of Best Actress – Brie Larson in Room and for many big fans of Lenny Abrahamson’s seminal work, Big Rock Candy Mountain was a soulful nod to the past year’s best performance.
And Brie Larson completely deserved the golden gong.
The 26 year old actress was pretty much the sole frontrunner of award season. The performer, who started acting throughout her teens and gained traction during her early twenties in films such as Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 21 Jump Street. She gained acclaimed for her role in Short Term 12 – a film which you all should see by the way – but it was this year’s heart-wrenching Room that solidified her as one of the world’s greatest actresses (oh, and my Twitter friend for about three months.)
The actress has soared and if you missed her impeccable performance in Room, which fought off the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Cate Blanchette, then it is luckily out on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Room revolves around Joy who, seven years ago, was kidnapped by a man known only as Old Nick and is held in an 11 by 11 foot enclosure. Giving birth to a son, Jack, Joy makes the decision to tell him that life within Room is all there is and everything within the television does not exist. However, urged yet again to escape when Old Nick takes away their power, Joy tells him the truth and Jack is forced to confront a larger world than the one he has known – the little and dingy Room…
A commented bounded around from a dear critic friend who stated that Room was very similar to The Revenant: The Oscar winning movies were about survival and perseverance. Whilst one battle with the harsh nature and brutal beauty of the world, the other took on the brutality of man in all his sickening horror. Joy’s story, told through the round eyed innocence of her son Jack, is the endurance through kidnap, rape, and confinement and then, the preservation of her son when he is unwantedly born.
More so than the obvious and physical entrapment displayed here, Room excavates a remarkable understanding of mental illness such as Ma switching off for days on end whilst inside the room and her inability to readjust outside of Room. In fact, two of the arguably more troubling scenes within the film are when she faces what has happened to her and Jack that, juxtaposed against the seemingly idyllic and now foreign world she used to live, breaks her spirit all over again which is shown in the conflict with her mother and the news-reporters contempt for sensitivity (accusing her of being an unfit mother for not allowing Jack to escape.) Room never tackles the subject matter with a clunky hand.
Brie Larson is the spirituous and intricate performer who solidifies these themes. She is able to layer Joy with the realist emotional changes that her vitriol and rage as well as hope and courage are all utterly believable. The sense that this young woman was taken in the prime of her life and suffered for seven years under the command of someone else rocks throughout the film and Larson handles this story – a very true one for some people – with completely control and sensitivity, weaving the heftiness of her suffering in understated gestures, the bags around her eyes, and the pain etched into her voice. Larson takes a role that could’ve been wrongfully enhanced by melodrama and, instead, quietly hurts. Surprisingly, it’s a performance louder than most.
Lenny Abrahamson demands the excavation of the human soul in most of his work that the ferocious director encroaches from whilst the young Jacob Tremblay, who, during press junkets and red carpet shenanigans became our adoptive son, is a revelation and can tackle the arc of wonder and frustration tremendously well.
Room is a marriage of Emma Donoghue’s story with these superb talents and it liftst into this powerful and superb feature.
Room is out on DVD and Blu-Ray 9th May