Cast includes: Brie Larson (21 Jump Street), Jacob Tremblay (The Smurfs), Sean Bridgers (Sweet Home Alabama), Joan Allen (The Bourne Ultimatum), William H. Macy (Shameless)
Writer: Emma Donoghue (novel and screenplay)
Director: Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did)
Genre: Drama (119 minutes)
Jack wakes up reciting the story of Jack… “Once upon a time… and then she cut the umbilical cord and said…” “Hello Jack.” Even though things are almost the same every day in “room,” today’s special. “Ma. I’m 5.” The sweet face and long hair make Jack look like a little girl, but he’s not. Ma and Jack begin their day with the usual… rolling up the rug, exercises, watching cartoons on TV, yoga and track. In 3 steps, Jack runs from one side of room to the other… turns and runs back. Today, they’re making a birthday cake with the supplies from Sunday treats… they crack eggs, add ingredients, stir with their one big spoon and put it in the tiny oven. “No, we don’t have any candles,” says Jack. “Just try a bite,” says Ma. “I said NO,” Jack screams.
After their bath, Jack wants to hear a story. Now that Jack’s 5, Ma thinks it’s time for different stories… “About what’s real and what’s not.” The skylight: real. Ma: real. Cartoons on TV: not real. People on TV: not real… “Actually, the people are real,” says Ma. It’s not an easy concept to explain because the only other person besides Ma that Jack has ever seen is Nick. When Nick comes to room on Sundays, Jack has to hide in the wardrobe. After Nick brings supplies, he takes off his clothes and gets on top of Ma… 48, 49, 50, 51… Jack counts as the bed bumps the wall. “Maybe if you could stop complaining and be a little grateful…” That’s how Nick answers when Ma tells him they don’t have enough to eat. Nick leaves, and once again Ma and Jack are alone, locked in room. Jack is still struggling with the new concept of real and not real. Walls have 2 sides… there’s a world outside of room. Ma didn’t always live in room. Seven years ago Nick tricked Ma… “This story is boring!” says Jack. He likes the old stories better.
Now that Jack is 5, Ma thinks it’s time for them to plan a “trick on Old Nick.” Jack struggles with every step of the plan… what’s real and what’s not. Eventually, Jack gets to see for himself what’s real and what’s not because the plan works. Their escape gives them a chance to start life again. “It’s good that Jack’s so young because he’s still plastic,” says the doctor. “No, I’m real,” says Jack. Room is a macro view of the mindset of a little boy who has never known anything beyond the walls of a little room, and Ma, who remembers her old life and wants it back. The basic story isn’t about big plot turns… instead, it shows how even the most common things or events can pose nearly insurmountable obstacles. Both the bestselling novel and the screenplay were written by Emma Donoghue. The acting is excellent and the film does an amazing job of keeping us in the world, as seen through Jack and Ma’s eyes. Ma finds she can’t go back to the way things were when she was a teenager. “I can’t help it that I’m not nice anymore.” Jack eventually figures out that being in world is better than being in room. “Because I don’t know what we like, we get to try everything.”
3 popped kernels
Ma (in room for 7 years) and 5-year-old Jack (born in room) finally escape and learn to live in the real world.
Rated: R (Violence, Sexual Content, Crime)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Escape after long confignment
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought Provoking