All in all, this movie is really one of the best cinematic achievements of 2015 - a drama which has it all: amazing actors, basically all emotions there are in the playbook (desperation, angst, suspense, drama, love, sadness) and a wonderful story. This is one of the absolute must-sees of 2015
The Good
  • Brie Larson and (especially) Jacob Trembley are just killing it
  • So much emotion packed into just one movie
  • One of best dramas in the 2000s
The Bad
  • Whoops! There really is nothing to find
4.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

A week has passed since the Oscars and the deserved win for Brie Larson as best female actress – and just now do I get the chance to finally write down my thoughts on Room.

First of, this will make my Top 3 movies of this year; I haven’t seen a movie which had such a profound effect on me while watching it in a long time (and I have seen a lot of movies recently). This was in fact one of the very few movies which made me tear on multiple occasions – and normally my wife takes on that role in our movie watching venues. However before you read this review or learn anything about this movie, I implore you to go and watch this movie completely cold turkey and follow these simple instructions to avoid spoilers:

  • Don’t read the IMDB plot summary
  • Don’t watch the trailer
  • Don’t read this review

Basically, just close this page right away, go get yourself some movie tickets and watch this film.


Living in Room

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

To get to the bottom of this film, I basically have to spoil right from the get-go. The movie starts with Ma (amazing acting by Brie Larson) and her son Jack (out-of-this-world acting by 9(!!!) year old Jacob Tremblay) with really long hair. Ma has been in this room for the past seven years as she was captured and locked up by Old Nick – who then presumably as a result of him raping her – fathered Jack who is now five years old. The first third of the film sets the stage of their living situation in Room and how they “make it work”. Ma has build up a closed universe for Jack who has never seen the outside world (besides the sky through the shed window). She tries to explain to him how the world outside is and that there are trees, rivers, people and all these other beautiful things. To Jack this all seems cool and interesting but since he has never seen anything else, he seems (kind of) content with his life in Room. For the audience however, the helplessness of the situation is painfully apparent. Ma and Jack are locked down in this room and there is basically no way out – NEVER. This is their life and either Old Nick will kill them at some point or they will be in Room until the end of days. So this first part is just pure pain to watch because you don’t really know what will happen to them during the remainder of the movie.

Truck, wiggle out, jump, run, somebody

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Then comes the turn – as Jack has now turned five, Ma starts plotting a plan with him to escape Room. Watching that plan unfold was crazy suspense because at this point of the movie, I was SO Camp-Jack that I could not have stomached anything happening either to Ma or to Jack. So these 15 or so minutes during which Jack does his escape move as instructed by Ma: “Truck, wiggle out, jump, run, somebody”, my heart was racing and at no point was it clear that he would actually make it since the movie hadn’t really given us any positivity up until that moment. And the escape was conveyed so amazingly well by Lenny Abrahamson (which already justifies his Oscar nomination). Not only did it deliver absolute suspense but also the cinematic elements of sound, motion and first-time exposure to noise, cars, daylight and weather to Jack were incredible. That in itself was just such a visceral cinematic experience. And even once Jack had successfully escaped and was in custody, I was still worried sick that Old Nick’s next move will (no must be) go home, kill Ma and get the hell out of town.

Just to quickly re-iterate why I said you should not watch the trailer, all these important parts are spoiled already by the trailer which I think is scandalous since it happens a good 45 minutes into the movie.

And that is when I had the first major itch in my eye – these two characters who have nothing but each other and their endless mother-son love have finally broken free and are being re-united. And for some reason (that is also probably what caused the major leak in optical water pipes) – I could so feel how much Ma loves Jack and how worried she must have been for his well-being. This is when the movie gives us this first uplifting moment after 50 minutes of showing us hopeless sadness.

One critical remark here though (and that is the only critical thing I can say about this film) is that taking Jack back to Room where his mother may or may not have been killed by her capturer seemed a tad too unrealistic for me. That probably mostly bothered me because everything else in this movie had seemed so intense and realistic up to this point.

Ma & Jack – what happens next ?

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Finally, Ma and Jack are free – their life can now begin in the real world – and bamm – there I got this other itch in my eye. And that was the moment of Ma is being re-united with her parents who already thought their daughter is gone forever. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of emotional rollercoaster this must be for parents to see your daughter again after 7 (!!!) years of captivity. And here is where Jacob Tremblay’s acting skills really came to shine. Often child actors have to be and act out one “type” of person. Jack was a “normal” 5 year old kid to Ma since she was his only focus point over the past years and he obviously deeply trusts her. But now there are all these other people and Jack is confused, scared and intimidated by all his surroundings. And Jacob Tremblay played out these instant moments when Jack runs back into Ma’s lap acting out of the emotions mentioned above so well. Meanwhile, the character of Jack then starts to learn about all these new things in the outside world and here again Jacob Trembley plays out the novelty his character experiences so well and realistic. I am still (two weeks after watching this film) in complete awe about his acting.

Meanwhile, I really liked how they portrayed Ma’s post-hostage situation; she is 25 years old now and has lived her years of growing up into adulthood (maybe going to College) in captivity and she has a really hard time to find her place in real life; which again is really hard to watch.

Finally after watching Ma’s life basically going to shit even after she is freed, the film gives us one of the most uplifting moments of 2015 cinema: Jack telling Grandma that he loves her after getting his first haircut. This young innocent character who has lived through so much darkness culminating in seeing her mother’s suicide attempt is still able to show and express his love to another human being – that again lit up my heart.

All in all, this movie is really one of the best cinematic achievements of 2015 – a drama which has it all: amazing actors, basically all emotions there are in the playbook (desperation, angst, suspense, drama, love, sadness) and a wonderful story. This is one of the absolute must-sees of 2015.

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