Monday, 29 February 2016

Film: 'Room'

I don't share the widely-held admiration for this. In fact, now having seen all eight of the films nominated for the 'Best Picture' Oscar, I rate this one as being the least satisfactory. 

My opinion largely stems from such an unlikely incident about half-way through, when the camera goes out of the titular room for the first time, and then suddenly things happen at such an incredible pace that for a long time into this second hour I thought "No way! This has just got to be in the mother's imagination - and soon it will all dissolve and we'll revert to seeing her once more being kept as a prisoner with her 5 year-old son." (Just as it happens in so many inferior horror films). But no. We're supposed to take this as an actual, reality stage of the denouement.
The first hour, entirely in that room, at least held the promise of extended suspense being wound up like a coiled clockwork spring, but after this 'event' it was dissipated.

Brie Larson has just taken the 'Best Actress' Oscar for her part here as the mother of young, luxuriantly long-haired, Jacob Tremblay. She's fine in the role, quite good in fact, though I didn't think anything in particular marked her out as more deserving of the award than the other nominees.
The circumstances of her imprisonment in this small but all-purpose room are not fully explained, the incarcerator bringing in regular supplies of food and other needs, including toys, and occasionally stays for the night, the boy watching him through the slats in the door of his 'sleeping-cupboard'. The only world he knows is that on TV (the room's sole window is a skylight) and he can't imagine anything other than that when his mother attempts to explain. His occasional yelling bouts (mercifully short), close to headache-inducing,  continue into the different setting of the second half of the film.

Apart from the full motivation of the perpetrator being left unexplained, other than his just being a sadist, there are other loose ends - such as what was the reason behind grandpa William H. Macy's perceived odd attitude to the boy? It was just left hanging in the air. Macy did say something to the effect of talking about it later, but he didn't - he just disappeared. Very odd. Did that part of the story end up on the cutting room floor?
Why wasn't the boy's very girlish-looking long hair mentioned by anyone until near the very end. It's true that on his first encounter outside he was mistaken for a member of the other sex, but after that no one seemed to be that bothered. I've never in my life seen an infant boy with such long hair. Any girl of similar age would have envied to have possessed such.

I'll give the film marks for being original - the author of the book on which this is based, Emma Donaghue, also wrote the screenplay here.
Director Lenny Abrahamson also directed the much better 'Frank' of 2014.

But this film, I felt, was at best, not much above run-of-the-mill stuff despite the promising premise, though I'll be surprised if anyone who's seen it agrees with me......................5.


  1. I , as you know, liked Room, and it was the performances that swung it for me Raymondo......
    As a study of motherhood and child development it was a cracking movie

    1. I was indeed very aware of your liking for this, J.G. In fact I was thinking about your opinion while watching it. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing - it doesn't mean that either of us is 'wrong'. Actually in your job and with your experience you'll be much more attuned to mother/child relationships than I am so your view is particularly pertinent. And I do accept that my feelings of indifference will be very much that of a minority.

  2. Ray,
    I won't see this film. I go to the movies to escape, to wide open spaces not a "room." Too confining for me.
    Yet another good review. Someone should be paying you for your talent at reviewing movies.

    1. Actually, Ron, I'd been expecting the entire film, or almost all of it, to be set in this one room but, as you see above, it's only the first hour of its two-hour length. Trouble was that I found that first part much more convincing than what followed, but there it is.

      And thanks again for your flattery but I'm not making it up when I say that I wince when I re-read some of my posts which I feel I ought to do when someone makes a delayed comment. I wouldn't dream of expecting someone to pay me for writing such inferior stuff - and no, that's not false modesty either!