Here’s another 2016 Best Picture nominee, and this one was one of the best/worst of the bunch. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s really well done, but it’s a really hard watch.
Joy is a 24 year old living with her 5 year old son, Jack, in a tiny garden shed they call ‘Room’. She was captured when she was 17 by a man they refer to as ‘Old Nick’. He has been keeping her as a sex slave for 7 year in this shed – routinely raping her while she keeps Jack hidden in the wardrobe. She had tried to get out a few times, which resulted in him breaking her wrist. Evenutally, she had Jack, and now the two of them live day to day in this one room with a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and tiny sink. He brings them supplies, and Joy tries to keep Jack hidden from him.
Joy tries to stay optimistic, but as she realizes that Jack is getting older, she gets more desperate to escape – since his entire existence is this one room. He has no concept of the world, even as she tries to explain it to him. She hatches a desperate plan to fake Jack’s death – getting ‘Nick’ to remove him rolled in a carpet – Jack then jumps out of his truck and runs for help. Found by the police, an officer uses Jack’s description of the truck and shed to piece together where Joy is being held. Once escaped, they are reunited with Joy’s parents, who are now divorced and her mother remarried. At first Jack is very quiet and withdrawn, terrified of how big the world is, but eventually he acclimates, and begins to accept everything around him – providing the inspiration for his mother to keep going as well.
Like I said – it’s a hard watch, and what makes this a stand out film is the way the story is told. The front half of the movie is in the room, the second half is in the world. The entire movie is told from Jack’s point of view, which really gives it an interesting feel – and also prevents it from becoming too bleak – even when it is. Lenny Abrahamson did an amazing job directing it – really making the front half feel claustrophobic. The cast is exceptional.
- Brie Larson has won just about all the Best Actress awards this year, and really – with good reason. She is great in this movie, trying so hard to stay positive when almost all her hope is gone. She deserved that Oscar – big time.
- There was a lot of talk that Jacob Tremblay should have been nominated – and while I don’t agree with nominating kids for Oscars, he was fantastic – and really, had to carry the entire movie. His performance is subtle and natural, which is what you want from a child-actor.
- Sean Bridgers plays Old Nick, and really, since the story is told from Jack’s point of view, and he rarely sees Old Nick, there’s not much of Bridgers in the movie.
- Joan Allen plays Joy’s mother Nancy – who does an amazing job being at first, thrilled her daughter is home, then slightly frustrated when trying to get through her daughter’s anger and depression, then patient and kind while waiting for her grandson to open up to her. Incidentally – it seems she’s going to be playing a similar role on that new TV show, the Family.
- William H. Macy plays Joy’s father Robert – who struggles to accept Jack, after all – you know what he’s thinking every time he looks at him. He’s happy to see his daughter, but once he leaves, he does not come back.
- Tom McCamus plays Nancy’s new husband, Leo – and really, I thought he was wonderful. He does a great job being very patient with Jack and helping him slowly open up to the new situation.
Overall – it’s painful to watch, but it is exceptionally well-done. It’s worth watching, and it does have a happy ending – so keep that in mind through the hard parts!
5 out of 10 – yes, it’s well done, but that doesn’t mean I personally enjoyed it!