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Room  : A world by itself
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Friday, January 29, 2016
Lenny Abrahamson
Brie Larson, William H Macy, Joan Allen, Jacob Tremblay

When a 5-year-old confined to a shabby room from birth is told that there is a real world he must go into, he’s so petrified that he poignantly says, “I want to be four again.” Security is in the familiar. In springing out of bed and saying, “Good morning” to the sink, the toilet, the TV, the bare essentials crammed into a tiny room.

It could have been dark cinema when the story is about 17-year-old Joy who’s held by an abusive kidnapper. But her bond with Jack, the infant she gives birth to in captivity, is so warm and sunny, that it touches more than depresses.

Jack has turned 5, so mom and birthday boy bake a cake which is a rare treat. But candles? We’ll get them for your sixth, promises Ma as she pacifies the five-year-old. It’s mind over matter, Joy tutors Jack. A good once-in-a-while scream to vent is also like a game.


Punctuated with frightening moments curled up in the cupboard when Old Nick visits his mother at night, mice and mosquitoes are more real for Jack than crows, dogs and trees which are only on TV. For Jack, this is life, including Old Nick’s violence followed by cutting off the power.


In fact, the idea of a world outside to which he must escape, terrifies the small boy. But coaxed by his mother to dupe Old Nick, Jack rolls out. In the real world, like all twisted bullies, Old Nick is ultimately a coward who runs at the first sign of opposition. Jack and Joy are saved.


The sky and real people are a startling revelation for little Jack. For Joy too, getting used to changed circumstances in her family, is tough. Adjustment takes time. There are moments when Jack would rather be back in the room that spelt security for him. Until he’s ready to bid a final goodbye to the room.


Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, Room could well be your neighbourhood story, it’s so frighteningly real. Brie Larson as Joy and Jacob Tremblay as Jack make the bond even more special. Danny Cohen’s cinematography is suitably cramped inside the room, celebrating the greenery and the sunrays as Jack breaks free.


With four well-deserved Oscar nominations, Room gets a healthy 3* rating.


Reviewed by

Bharathi S Pradhan

Journalist & Author


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