Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review: Room

Year: 2015 (U.K Threatical Release: 2016)
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Screenplay: Emma Donoghue
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H Macy

Synopsis is here:

Despite the film’s slow build, and it’s sometimes misguided moments of tone, Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel; Room, is an involving drama led brilliantly from the film’s main cast. To say too much about the plot, is to ruin things. The film’s marketing has already perhaps let in too much air. Although it would be difficult to sell Room without hinting at least some of its dark premise.

The film's bleak introduction is tough going. For some, it will be the very idea of what’s happening within the enclosed space. Despite being a work of fiction, Donoghue’s story was inspired by a very disturbing true story. One which may switch off one or two in the audience, but would surprise fans of Abrahamson’s previous works. For myself, I found the films first act difficult to get my teeth stuck into. Its situation is troubling, the cast brings forth the right chemistry, yet the stodginess of the piece (while seemingly intentional) becomes slightly overbearing.

Room becomes a far more engaging film after a pivotal event, to which we are suddenly pushed forward into a new range of dynamics. All from the viewpoint of a small child. There’s a slight echo of Terry Gilliam’s Tideland (2005), but while Abrahamson never delves into the recesses of a disturbed child as vibrantly as Gilliam, he maintains a similar innocence while keeping in place a wonderful eye for detail. Room is a film of close ups and reactions, both captured expertly by (cinematographer) Danny Cohen, who manages to display the disorientating effects of an encapsulated youth with a disturbing accuracy.

It is the leads who pull off the films real power. Brie Larson’s darting eyes and troubled glances are matched with the brevity of newcomer Jacob Tremblay. Neither performance is easy to pull off. Both are layered with emotional and give the film's extraordinary situation its pull, even if the catharsis isn’t as powerful as expected.

As an introduction to Abrahamson’s work, Room is far more accessible than the deeply affecting What Richard Did (2012), or his macabrely quirky Adam and Paul (2004). It still brings about some difficult watching and while it doesn’t home as hard as previous efforts (does the film need to lean on its score as hard as it does?), it’s certainly a solid piece of work from an upfront and ambitious director. It’ll be easy to see audience members ignore my heart of stone and flood a screening room in tears.