R Dir: Lenny Abrahamson | Lionsgate | 1h 58min
Plot: What’s it about?
It’s amazing how much we take for granted in life and, more to the point, in the United States. We’re known as materialistic snobs who only care about ourselves. There’s a web site called “First World Problems” in which it details some of the things we whine about, but really aren’t that important. For example: “I had to get the black iPhone instead of the white. I’m so upset!” Whereas someone in a third world country might say “I haven’t had a shower in a year” or “My mother was raped by the police.” I guess what I’m saying is that it puts it all in perspective. So when I sat down to watch Room, I was debating on what camera lens to buy for my new camera (that I don’t need). Suffice it to say that after the credits rolled, my decision didn’t really seem that important. Switching gears, the movie was written by Emma Donoghue, based on her best-selling novel. While it’s not a totally true story, she was inspired by events of the same nature.
Joy “Ma” (Brie Larson) was a normal high school girl until she unwillingly offered to help a man who kidnaped her. That was seven years ago. She’s been locked inside a room that measures all of 100 square feet. She’s been repeatedly raped and, seven years later, has a five year old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay). All they have is one another. They’ve never been out of the room (which Ma has aptly-named “room”) and Jack knows nothing of the world around him other than what he can see on television. His imagination runs wild with his mother as his best friend. Jack is getting to the age where Ma feels that they can try and pull one over on her captor, “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). She’s tried this before to no avail. However, after a failed attempt they try again and it works. Now that they’re out of the room, the real challenge is re-acclimating to the world around them and teaching Jack fiction from reality.
I don’t think that anything was given away by my synopsis that wasn’t shown in a trailer or a review. If so, I apologize. What I’ll say is this: Room is one of those films that sticks with you. There are so many films that you forget right after the credits roll, but this is certainly not one of them. Brie Larson won an Academy Award for her role here and rightfully so. She was amazing. Nearly as good was young Jacob Tremblay who, I feel, was overlooked for at least a nomination. Nevertheless, these two carry the film even with more seasoned actors in the mix like Joan Allen and William H. Macy. What’s so amazing is how long this movie does stay with you. It’s been several days since I saw it and I’m still haunted by some of the feelings and images that this film evoked. If that’s not a testament to the power and emotion of this film, I don’t know what is. This film deserves to be seen.
Video: How’s it look?
The film has two essential acts with the first taking place in the room that’s both a home and prison to the main characters. The second is out in the “real world” and these two have pretty different looks to them. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks crisp, clean and sharp yet the color palette is dull and muted. I have to assume this was intentional to reflect a somber and melancholy mood. The skin of Ma and Jack are dull and lifeless, pasty and white. That will happen when you don’t see the sun on a daily basis. That said the detail is amazing, the static on the television, the frayed hairs and even the intricacies on a loose tooth are all amazing. The wide image makes for a very realistic and chlosterphobic effect. It’s odd to think that my television is about 10% the size of the room that the characters were in.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This isn’t a heavy movie for audio even though the DTS HD Master Audio track does have a few moments. The dialogue drives the film and does a good job with it. Jack’s high-pitched screams are complimented by Ma’s steady and even-keeled tone. Surrounds are used a few times, but not to much effect. It’s a front heavy track and, for all intents and purposes, could have been mono and would have been just as effective. While the movie doesn’t sound bad by any means, this isn’t one that will showcase the limits of your system (another “first world problem” I might add).
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Screenwriter/Director Lenny Abrahamsson as well as some cast members, give us a very in-depth look at the film, some of the themes, the challenges of getting it made and produced and distributed. That said, it’s a very emotional and heartfelt track that’s a perfect compliment to the film itself.
- Making Room – A somewhat standard, yet informative look at how the movie was made, author/screenwriter Emma Donaghue tells of how the book was sold and how she was looking for the right people to buy/make it. Interviews with the cast and crew expand on this as the actors tell of their attraction to the part and the story as a whole.
- 11′ x 11′ – The physical nature of the room itself is explored, how the actors had to “live” in the confines of the space and how it was essentially another character in the film.
- Recreating Room – The room itself was packed up and shipped to Toronto and re-assembled for members of the press as part of a multi-media exhibit. This was done to further immerse the viewers into the world of the film.
The Bottom Line
I loved Room. It’s one of those movies that I’ll probably watch at least once a year. It makes you sit back and think what’s really important in life and how much we really take for granted. Stripped of all material possessions, it makes you realize what’s truly important in life – family. The Blu-ray looks good and delivers acceptable audio, but that’s not the point. There are a smattering of extras that make the disc worth purchasing. Highly recommended.