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TIFF Review: Room

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A young woman and her five-year-old son are held captive in a shack located in the backyard of a residential home.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who is celebrating his fifth birthday has developed a daily routine with his mother, Joy (Brie Larson) that has them never leave the confines of the “room” which is shack converted into a makeshift living quarters.  Despite never seeing the outside world beyond the skylight and television, Jack has an unlimited imagination that has shielded him from the cruel reality of his predicament which involves Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) bringing groceries, having sex with Joy and locking the door when leaving while he sleeps.  Fearing what will become of Jack, Joy has to convince him that there is a bigger world outside so she can orchestrate his escape.

Not surprisingly with the story being view from the eyes of Jack, he also provides a naïve voice over that has a stranger effect on the tone of the movie which tries to balance the darkness with a sense of hope.  The counterweight is the role of Joy who is far from embodying her namesake; Brie Larson (21 Jump Street) has haunted eyes and a drab complexion which serves as a constant reminder that their situation is far from being carefree.  The camera often takes on the perspective of Jack, especially, with the gradual reveal of their captor Old Nick.  Tight close-up shots and blurred imagery are utilized so to heighten the sense of how Jack perceives the world in which he lives.

Unfortunately, William H. Macy (Fargo) is given a rather forgettable and small role to play while Joan Allen (The Bourne Supremacy) is allowed to show a bit more range.   Jacob Tremblay (Before I Wake) does a commendable job of portraying a bewildered Jack; however, the real star is Brie Larson who embodies a tormented young woman robbed of seven years of her life but has found a glimmer of hope within the existence of her son.  The trouble is that the story never quite rises above the melodrama that is innate with telling the story from the eyes of a child.

 

3-out-of-5

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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