Monday, 21 December 2015

REVIEW - ROOM (LENNY ABRAHAMSON)


Some people just have it. Jacob Tremblay just has it. Room is a film about human emotion, in terms that are plain, in a setting that is extraordinary. It manipulates its audience as the best films do but with extra potency, given our limitless fascination with observing apparently average people in undeniably remarkable situations. The success of Room is predicated, thus, upon the success of how it communicates its heavy, highly-charged strain of human emotion, its transmutation of the emotional into the emotive. The burden is largely on the shoulders of its actors, and the film is a success because they are a success. Brie Larson is utterly convincing as the captive young mother betrayed into a life of endless turmoil endlessly shifting; Jacob Tremblay is better still as her son, handling a most complex of roles with amazing sensitivity. You watch him navigate a part that most actors ten times his age would struggle with, respond with honesty and vitality to circumstances neither you nor I, never mind him, could be expected to make sense of, and conclude that he just has it in him. These two succeed, and Room requires them to - otherwise, the key creative principals appear to step back, whether out of good judgement or a lack of innovation. Emma Donoghue's screenplay is so finely attuned to its characters that it leaves little scope for Lenny Abrahamson to construct a film around anything but those characters. We grow to care for them, to the point where the film could have taken several more jolting narrative turns to little effect, but almost never truly feel for them. Emotive it may be, but only on occasions - elsewhere, Room is simply a work of appreciation for two outstanding acting performances.