DRAMA; 1hr 57min
STARRING: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay
Breathing room: Tremblay and Larson
Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel, Room, is the story, told from his point of view, of five-year-old Jack (Tremblay), incarcerated from birth with his "Ma," Joy (Larson), by the predator who fathered him (Sean Bridgers) in a locked, 3m x 3m room. "Room," as Joy and Jack call it, is his entire world: knowing the dangers of this, Joy swaddles him in rituals. Their plight is so debased it needs no embellishment and neither director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) nor an elemental Larson bring any to it. The effect of the screenplay, also written by Donoghue, is one of documentative matter-of-factness: Jack accepts his situation with a child's pragmatism and Joy does everything she can to keep him safe while she waits for him to grow old enough to escape.
If the mechanics of Jack's breakout are frightening, the outside world is an alien planet where events unfold with the aberrant cadence of a fever dream. In one sense, Donoghue has lost out to herself, however. Even with Larson's barefaced openness and the invaluable Tremblay, whose performance seems both guileless and aware, Room the movie can't compete with the inner landscape of her astonishing prose.