Movie review: ROOM

My coworker and the brains behind Oh Hey Whatsup? snagged some free tickets to an advance screening of ROOM tonight. Who can turn down a free movie, right?

If you’re not familiar with it, ROOM is the screen adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s bestselling book. It tells the story of Jack, a five year old boy, and Ma, who are both held captive in a garden shed by a man named Old Nick. Ma has been a captive for seven years, while Jack has been confined to “Room” his entire life. They have only a small skylight to show them the outside world until Ma comes up with a plausible plan that allows Jack to escape, get help, and save them both.

It is a terrible, heart-wrenching, disturbing story and I was fully expecting to cry for the entire two hours. I didn’t, though. The movie, as depressing as I anticipated it being, was not sad. Upsetting at times, yes, but not sad.

Instead, the movie was profoundly moving. Told from the perspective of Jack, ROOM vividly illustrates the complex relationship between a mother and her son and is a truly fascinating exploration into the basic human instincts of survival and adaptability both in times of adversity. The adversity here, of course, is both confinement to “Room” and what happens when suddenly, after seven years, Ma and Jack are thrust back into “world.”

Having not read the book, I’m unable to compare. Anecdotal evidence from others in the theater indicates that the movie shared the story from Jack’s naïve, childish perspective better than was done in the book. I agree that the movie did a good job of framing the plot from the perspective of a five year old; as one would expect, the primary emotions of the movie fall into the “sad” and “happy” categories (I laughed as much as I cried). Viewers don’t fully experience the breadth of adult emotions we see in Ma throughout because we aren’t meant to. We are meant to experience this tragedy through the heart of someone who doesn’t understand it’s a tragedy.

It’s well executed, thoughtful, and just the right amount of emotional. I’d recommend it (although you won’t lose anything by not seeing it in theaters).

P.S. The film company is going to have a terrible time overpowering the SEO for the worst movie ever, The Room. Wish they could have changed the title.

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