Room An 11ft-square room, to be precise.
This is a film which really didn’t grab me by its premise of a mother and her son in the one location, even though I have loved some movies with one locations, like Hitchcock’s Rope and, for the most part, Reservoir Dogs. I saw the trailer. I just didn’t get it.
Oscar-interest aplenty doesn’t always mean a film I’ll enjoy, but then, after Mark Kermode said on the BBC News Film Review, “It’s not the film you *think* it is”, I thought I’d give it a shot.
It took about 20 minutes before I *got it*, in terms of being hooked by it, and it IS gripping as there’s a story to discover which is VERY well told.
The film starts with the young lad, Jack, turning five, yet there’ll be no big party for this momentous occasion, since he’s spent his entire life in Room. And it is just called ‘Room’. Brie Larson‘s character is simply referred to as “Ma”, and she controls his understanding of everything. A mouse isn’t a mouse, it’s “mouse”. Same with “bad tooth”, since she really needs a dentist.
To Jack, there’s Room, then outer space – with all the TV planets (since that’s pretty much their only visual outlet), then Heaven. Plant is real, but not trees. As for any provisions, all he knows is that a man referred to as Old Nick gets everything they need. And as he’s being forced to understand what the world’s about now he’s five years old – as Ma reckons he’s now old enough, he bemoans, “I want to be four again”. Aww… 🙂
Questions I had while I watched it included “Why are they in there?” and “What’s going on in the outside world that’s led to this?”
However, Room is a film that’s difficult to describe without giving spoilers, so all I’ll say is that your questions will be answered in what is a very well-rounded film, and it’s a rare one that also has a satisfactory ending. I don’t think it’s Oscar-winning-worthy for Brie Larson as Best Actress – she’s very good, but Jacob Tremblay was quite brilliant in his role as Jack. However, I think it’s another step to creating an often-suggested Oscar and BAFTA award for Best Ensemble Cast for these two, as they work brilliantly together.
And it’s also is certainly a step-up from the diabolical mess that was Frank, director Lenny Abrahamson‘s last movie.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and looks crisp and sharp, bringing the horrific-looking, stinky titular room to the screen, just as you’d expect for a modern movie release.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and it’s fine, but as it’s mostly a drama, there’s not a huge amount going on in the rears. Then again, it’s not a special effects film.
The extras are as follows:
- Featurettes: seven of them here – three main ones: 11×11 (9:06): a great look at the intricate detail of creating such a small space, yet with so much packed into it; Making Room (12:02): taking the idea from script to screen; and Emma’s Corner (4:53): Emma Donoghue, who wrote the screenplay from her own novel, takes a tour of the set.
And four very brief ones, clearly created for TV filler, which is not a problem if that sounds like one, and it’s good to see them included here, but we could do with some more substantial extras: Brie Larson on becoming Ma (1:34), Jacob Tremblay: The Discovery (1:49), Emma Donoghue: Adapting the novel (2:04) and Brie and Jacob: An unbreakable bond (1:59).
There’s also an audio commentary featuring director Lenny Abrahamson, cinematographer Danny Cohen, editor Nathan Nugent and production designer Ethan Tobman.
The menu features subtle animation of the skylight, with the transition from day to night and back again, there are subtitles in English and a bog-standard 12 chapters.
Below, you can see my vlog about Room, which also includes a brief clip or two…
Running time: 118 minutes
Released: May 9th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (6K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Producers: David Gross and Ed Guiney
Screenplay: Emma Donoghue (based on her novel)
Music: Stephen Rennicks
Ma: Brie Larson
Jack: Jacob Tremblay
Old Nick: Sean Bridgers
Nancy: Joan Allen
Leo: Tom McCamus
Robert: William H Macy
Talk Show Hostess: Wendy Crewson
Veteran: Sandy McMaster
Doug: Matt Gordon
Officer Parker: Amanda Brugel
Officer Grabowski: Joe Pingue
Dr. Mittal: Cas Anvar
Attending Doctor: Zarrin Darnell-Martin
News Anchor: Jee-Yun Lee
Lawyer: Randal Edwards
FBI Agent: Justin Mader
Neighbour: Kate Drummond
Jack’s Friend: Jack Fulton
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.