Room

(M) Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) only knows life in a 10-by-10 foot room. His whole life has been a life in captivity, but his mother, “Ma” (Brie Larson) allows him to see that within the confines of “Room”, he can appreciate and love the life that they have. Like any good mother, she dedicates her life to educating him, providing for him and keeping him safe. Ma has created a world that allows Jack to grow up with a semi-normal childhood of cartoons, vitamins and birthday cake. But Jack begins to ask the questions that any curious child would. His mother must begin to reveal their plight to her son — that their life is anything but normal. Ma and Jack put together a daring plan and prepare themselves for the worst of situations but, more importantly, they must prepare themselves for the real world.

Novelist and screenwriter Emma Donoghue has managed to tell a story of hope amid a travesty of humanity that is ripped from today’s headlines. Her captivating story is directed with care and precision by director Lenny Abrahamsson (Frank). He manages to depict the tragic situation of this mother and her son but, enveloped by suffering, they are able to project a love and hope that can only be found through their familial bond. Brie Larson (Trainwreck) portrays the vulnerability, courage and sacrificial love needed to make Ma believable and hopeful. She personifies strength during their imprisonment and brilliantly shows the trauma of transitioning back into the realities of real life. Larson’s acting skills are enthralling, but the true strength of the film is built upon Tremblay’s performanceHe is captivating in his role and manages to draw the audience into his world. Some of this impact can be credited to excellent camera-work and direction, but credit is primarily based upon the charisma of this young actor.

Joan Allen and William H. Macy are part of the supporting cast, but Room is carried along by the relational bond between this mother and her son. This unique story exposes a side of the human experience that only can be communicated through suffering. It shows that many times humanity’s best qualities can only be seen when they are put through some of life’s worst scenarios.

The nightmare situation of this film exposes the depths of good and evil in the human experience. It is a situation that no one would ever want to occur, but it is an unfortunate reality in our world. Room depicts the evil that can be found in the heart of mankind, but provides a counter-balance of the love and faith that can be represented in people.

In Donoghue’s novel, there is more of an overt Christian element to the story that shows the faith of a mother and her willingness to raise her son reliant on a faith that eventually delivers them from the situation. Not all situations like this have a happy ending, but within this film we are able to see a beautiful depiction of the value of family and faith portrayed against suffering.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

  1. Does the Bible have anything to say about kidnapping? (Exodus 21:16, 1 Timothy 1:9-11)
  2. Can we ever find true justice? (Proverbs 21:15, Romans 12:19)
  3. Is man innately good or evil? (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:23)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger

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