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
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.
Bharathi S PradhanJournalist & Author