Room (2015)

I’m dumb. In my original review I sort of bemoaned that the entire film didn’t take place solely in the titular room and that everything following their escape was kinda forgettable. On the contrary, whenever I’ve thought of Room in the year or so since that viewing I always return to those later scenes and not, as I suspected, the section with Jack and Joy in captivity. The film’s brilliance, and its resonance, lies in that second half. Without it there really wouldn’t be much to say.

Amidst its Oscar season release, Room‘s uplifting arc couldn’t help but feel a bit saccharine – which probably explains my initial hesitant take, I wanted something a bit harsher amongst all those safe-playing awards movies – but now, free of baggage and judged entirely on its own merits I like the movie just the way it is. Jacob Tremblay’s performance is still adorable/devastating/amazing and Larson totally deserved that golden statue. You really live this with her and feel the weight on her shoulders. That’s acting. Love the production design too and Abrahamson’s deft balancing of childlike wonder and horror with proper tug-at-the-heartstrings melodrama.

One detail I keep coming back to is William H. Macy as the father who can’t deal with the situation and just gives up. He doesn’t look at his grandson. He just leaves. The film never returns to him nor dwells on his choice. He just throws his hands up and the film moves on. It’s such a powerfully blunt moment, but one that feels incredibly real and honest for that very reason. Casting Macy in such a minor role might feel a bit weird at first, but upon consideration, it’s why that beat lands so well. In fact this film’s treatment of modern family dynamics in general is quite extraordinary and gladly lets everyone have flaws and be fucked up without judgement.

When Jonathan Demme died earlier this year, I found myself thinking about Room a lot. He had nothing to do with the production but it feels like something he would have made or, at the very least, the kind of truthful and considerate humanist filmmaking he always stood for. Doesn’t get much better than that. Maybe as time goes on this will inch up to that full five stars.

Watched on blu-ray

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