Room Parent Review
Incredible performances contribute to the impact of this compelling story that paints a picture of the indomitable human spirit and the strength of a mother’s love.
For me (and I suspect for many other females), some of the most chilling news stories I have ever heard are accounts of women that have been kidnapped, raped and held for the sexual purposes of their captors. Many of these situations go on for years. I cannot help but imagine the desperation and hopelessness of the victim’s plight. And it appears this same envisioning may exist for author Emma Donoghue, who used such tales as inspiration for her novel Room, which she later adapted into a screenplay for this movie.
Told mostly through the eyes of five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), the film shows the amazing tenacity of Ma (Brie Larson). Even though she has been locked in a small shed for an undisclosed length of time, the young woman has managed to disguise their confinement by describing Room to her son as though it were as big as the whole world. Within their cramped quarters she sing songs, tells stories, plays games and creates crafts, as well as teaching Jack to read and encouraging him to exercise. She also insures the boy’s safety by carefully meting out their scanty food rations and tucking him behind the closed doors of a wardrobe on the nights when Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) comes to visit.
While Room feels like heaven to Jack, the reality of their hell is closing in on Ma. Understanding their dependency on the mercy of Old Nick and their vulnerability to his fickle moods, she decides the child is finally old enough to help her with a daring escape plan. Yet as dangerous as her scheme might be, the possibility of freedom may come with its own unexpected terrors.
Playing to the worst nightmares of my gender, this movie presents all the emotional power of a mother’s love along with the gripping suspense of a thriller. The choice to explore the challenges faced within and without the walls of Room also adds a surprising depth to a script that might otherwise have just been pandering to fear.
Obviously, the nature of the themes presented here are too intense for young viewers. Fortunately, most of the disturbing content is implied, rather than shown. We never see what happens between Ma and Old Nick, we just see the man take off his pants (his underwear is shown) and hear the bed creaking. We aren’t sure what he’s doing to Ma during an angry outburst, however we hear her gasping for air and later see some ugly bruises on her neck. And the violence she has endured in the past is discussed rather than depicted. A few other portrayals worthy of note are scenes of a mother and son bathing together, an older child being breast-fed, prescription drug abuse, a suicide attempt and some verbal disagreements. The most problematic inclusions are the use of several strong sexual expletives, and a few mild and moderate profanities.
Incredible performances by Brie Larson and the young Jacob Tremblay contribute to the impact of this compelling story that uses both the strengths and weakness of the characters to paint a picture of the indomitable human spirit. At the end of the show, you may leave Room – but Room likely won’t leave you.Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release October 16, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Room here.
Room Parents Guide
What things does Ma do to protect her son from the reality of their situation and the potential harm of Old Nick? What things does she endure for his safety? Why does she eventually decide to tell him the truth? How hard is it for her to share this information? How easy is it for Jack to accept what she tells him?
When Jack is not on board with Ma’s escape plan, what does she do? Is it fair for her to “pick” what they are going to do, even if he finds it so scary? What kinds of circumstances might force parents to make hard choices for their children?
Ma and Jack face different problems once they return to the outside world. How realistic do you think these challenges are? Why is freedom not quite as sweet as they had hoped? Why is their reunion so hard? What suggestions might you have for someone facing a similar situation?
From The Studio: ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma. Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical - they are trapped - confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. Written by A24