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Room: This Room is Not a Home
By Alex Carrigan
*Editor's Note: This article is part of a series written by Alex Carrigan about this year's Academy Award nominated films. To see the rules for this challenge and to find other articles related to it, go to this page.
Well, this was an interesting film to end the series on.
Room tells the tale of a boy named Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson). Ma and Jack live in Room, a small space with only a skylight for light and a man named Old Nick who comes by to bring in food and other supplies. For the first part of the film, the viewer doesn't understand exactly what's going on. But then it becomes clear: Old Nick abducted Ma, has been holding her captive in Room for years, and impregnated her during this time. What follows is a tale of how Ma and Jack escape Room and reintegrate into society. For Jack, this is also about him learning to experience everything in the world for the first time.
I can tell that premise would turn the film off for most people. After all, it's quite a disturbing premise. The only thing that would make it more disturbing is if it took inspiration from any real case. Except it was. By several, in fact. This makes the first part of the film extremely uncomfortable. Director Lenny Abrahamson makes this even creepier by filming the entire film through Jack's perspective. Jack is always on screen, and the camera often shifts to his first person view of everything. Because of this, the viewer is forced to see things as he sees them. This causes the viewer to feel as disoriented and terrified as he is at times.
Thus, once the film moves outside Room, the viewer starts to see the world anew, like Jack. Because the first part of the film is so claustrophobic, the viewer has trouble adjusting to when the film is flooded with natural colors and bright sunlight. Room is small, dank, and muted, so that outpouring of light, color, and sound can be hard to take in. Like Ma and Jack, the viewer has to move from the terrifying scenario of Room and back into World, adjusting and growing with the former captives.
Because of that, I honestly found this to be one of the best films of this group.
I wasn't even halfway done with the film, but I knew it was going to be in the top percentile. Room is an extremely well made film, and is so impressively handled. Watching it, I realized Room was a lot like the kind of movies I normally like. The first half in Room is almost like an Ingmar Bergman film, where everything is bleak and slightly obtuse, but soon morphs and becomes something that's both difficult to watch, but absolutely fascinating. Once outside of Room, it becomes the kind of family drama I'd expect from someone like Michael Haneke or Lars von Trier. The characters have trouble adapting back into reality, and they have all their actions and characteristics bounced around by the people around them, threatening to either allow them to move on or to collapse in a puddle of depression and guilt.
Room is nominated for four Academy Awards this year, and honestly? I could see it winning all four. Whether it will win all four remains to be seen (and is highly unlikely, as this week has taught me), but I can make an honest case for each of its nominations. The screenplay, adapted by Emma Donoghue from her novel, is very well done, with plenty of quiet moments and great moments of character interaction to make everything play out well. Abrahamson's direction was very good too. I love when directors make movies in extremely small spaces (it's why Cube is one of my favorite sci-fi films), and it was handled very well. You feel as trapped as the characters in Room, and when outside, everything has a real style and look to it that separates it from many of the films it's competing against.
The film's one awards it is almost guaranteed to win is for Brie Larson. I'll admit, I never thought Envy Adams from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World would become an Oscar nominated actress, but this movie made me a believer. She does an amazing job in this film, combining maternal sweetness and trauma victim frustration well enough to make such a fully realized role that I can't even imagine her doing any other role. It's evidence enough that Larson should be getting more high profile dramatic work, and I think getting the Oscar will help her career.
Overall, I really liked this movie. I'm not sure if I find it better than Spotlight, but I know it's miles above most of the other films in this group. This was a film that had me gripped from the beginning and kept my interest the whole way through. It's not the easiest movie to watch due to its subject, but I think it's one of the more artful and interesting films chosen for this year's Best Picture nominees. For that, I really think it should be seen by more people, and I think it's more deserving of the award if it does win.
3rd: Mad Max: Fury Road
4th: The Big Short
5th: The Revenant
6th: The Martian
8th: Bridge of Spies
Tomorrow: Don't think that the above ranking list is final. Tomorrow, I revisit Mad Max: Fury Road, and see if it rides historic on the Fury Road. Witness me as I see how it's held up after watching seven other movies. I could quote more from the movie, but I'll stop there.
#Real #AlexCarrigan #OscarChallenge #Day7 #AcademyAwards #FilmCritique #EscapeFromRoom
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