If I had to tell you the story in one sentence, it would go something like this: Boy and mother kept in captive in a room by a psychotic asshole for five years of his life and seven of hers, then one day they’re rescued break out, but freedom is hard to deal with when your entire world has been a few square feet of hopeless suffocation for so long and now suddenly there are no walls.
But of course I won’t stop there, I have to ramble on about how much I love love loved this film adaption of a book. Maybe it hit me harder as a mother, but every emotion evoked by the mom-son duo is captured with such intricate natural sweetness, that I found my heart being eroded with multiple explosions of joy and pain. Too many soggy tissues I must tell you. Even the scenes where they’re in an embrace as they sleep, burrowing into each other, creating their own little happy world where they complete each other; such effortless displaying of unconditional love.
Ma had once told Jack that Room is THE world. Why she did it – maybe she lacked the strength to invent another story and it was easier to let a television be the teller of tales, or maybe she felt it best to extinguish any possibility of hope in him so he could live in ignorance and never know what exists beyond the walls,.
So Jack accepts it, and builds his imagination around that dingy existence, Toilet flush tanks, little rat friend, a shared bath tub, little Dora on TV, a toy car given by said asshole. Ma is pale and tired, treading the fine lines gently between protecting him, entertaining him, loving him, and staying sane for herself. Light comes in through a tiny skylight, and everyday they look up at it and scream.
Then one day she snaps within, and attempts to tell Jack the truth about the world, and how there is much more, and it’s hard as hell because she’s done such an incredible job of weaving this existence for him where he’s content that now telling him otherwise is shattering a lot of his beliefs. But she does it because she needs him to understand and help her hatch a plan to escape. I sat on pins and needles, chewing my nails despite despite knowing that they are somehow going to make it out because otherwise there’s really no point. And then in the end it happens – they’re free.
But we don’t get to see that immediate relish of grassy fields and sunny skies the way I’d imagined, the screenplay makes you wait for it. Jack struggles, trying to grasp this new expanse that’s come his way, beyond his mother and room. Ma is confronted with the an avalanche of questions regarding all the choices she’s made up to that point for her son; some from others, but most from herself. Too many questions, and no consolation from the answers. And while I found myself getting annoyed with her wallowing instead of seeking to seize all the loveliness that surrounded them now , I secretly understood her- the truth about how easy it is as a mother to rack yourself with guilt.Then comes the scene when the bitch woman interviewer confronts her with a question- did she never think of letting her captor Old Nick take him and deposit him at a hospital or foster home so he could stand a chance of experiencing a real childhood? That moment when she’s faced with the demon that’s probably been haunting in her head and has now taken form before her eyes , a possible truth she’d allowed herself to be blind to in a bid to be selfish; she reacts with a simple explanation “He had me, wasn’t that enough?” My favorite Brie Larson moment, sufficient for me to find her worthy of that Oscar.
Eventually Jack finds himself adjusting to everything- the fresh air, friends other than his mother, playing with Lego, ice cream. “Me and Ma have a deal, we’re going to try everything one time so we know what we like.” Jack declares. And you know that everything is going to be alright.
The beauty of the movie is the simplicity of a child’s world, it is what we show them, no questions asked. Jack and Ma were enough for each other, and that’s why Jack found himself missing Room, because that represented a realm his mother created for him. And I cannot even begin to talk about the incredible performance by Jacob Tremblay- by far the most impressive child actor I’ve seen.
As a mother, I constantly tell myself that I would do anything for my little girl, make any sacrifice. Room is a tribute to that promise we all make, to give them the best world we possibly can, whatever it costs us.