Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Room (4 Stars)

This is an emotionally moving story about a young boy who lives the first five years of his life in a single room without any contact to the outside world. He has his mother with him and a stranger who brings them food and other items. He has a television, but but he assumes that everything he sees is fiction. All that he can see of the real world is the sky through a skylight in the ceiling. He remains there until his mother tricks their captor into believing the boy is dead, so that he can be taken away.

The film is based on a novel by the Canadian author Emma Donague. She wrote it after hearing about the case of Josef Fritzl, an Austrian who kept his daughter locked up in his cellar for 24 years, where he raped her repeatedly, so that she had several children who grew up in isolation. Emma's book differs in many details, so it can't be seen as being about the Fritzl family. It's only loosely inspired by the events. Her book isn't about the captor, it's about the captives, which is reflected in the film. We only see the captor, a man referred to as Old Nick, briefly on a few occasions, and it isn't stated what his relationship is to the mother. He doesn't matter. He isn't relevant to the story.

The boy, Jack, is the focus of the story. It's about how he comes to grips with being exposed to a large new world for the first time. The film succeeds in showing his wonderment and his disorientation. He even has the desire to return to the room, because it was a less complicated place.

I wouldn't say this is an easy film to watch. It has its dark moments, both inside and outside of the room. It's a film to watch with friends or family, to be discussed together. Maybe some of my readers can share their thoughts about the film by leaving comments.

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