Room: Inside Out

Room is a superbly made drama about the bleakness that accompanies the loss of childhood

Updated - September 23, 2016 11:18 pm IST

Published - January 28, 2016 07:28 pm IST

In another kind of a story, Room would have been about a young woman and her five-year-old kept captive in a shed by this unassuming guy who turns out to be a psychopathic creep. But Lenny Abrahamsons’s drama, written by Emma Donoghue whose novel it is based on, almost sidesteps the rapist.

Instead of a bloodcurdling story of one of those American farm boy freaks that we’ve seen in the movies, we are introduced to the premise like it is a child’s drawing of a family of stick figures. Room, Ma, TV, Jack – the boy’s imagination is not only limited by the 10 by 10 room with a thin strip of skylight as the only view of natural light, it is also shaped by his mother Brie Larson’s deliberately naive depiction of the world.

Even the rapist and biological father seems to have a relatively more kid-friendly presence – he knows him as Old Nick, another name for the Devil.

Director: Lenny Abrahamson Genre: Drama Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers Storyline: The Room is about the irreparable damage that an extraordinary tragedy causes to our lives. Run time: 110 minutes

When we are introduced into their lives, its Jack’s fifth birthday, an occasion that Ma realises is time to face the real world, time to face a few unpleasant truths of life. There is an elaborate but completely believable escape plan in place. And I don’t remember the last time I rooted for a protagonist as much as I did for Jack. The film, aided by handheld camera, shows the kinetic energy of an indie thriller in these portions, invoking empathy and dread in equal measure.

But where it does go into the wide blue yonder is after Jack escapes. With terrific use of space and minimal characters, it forces us to think differently. Could it even be possible that their life inside the room is better than what it could be outside? Giving out a plot-point involving the escape wouldn’t be much of a spoiler. The film is far less about the escape -- as it is more about what the characters go through before and after the escape.

Jacob Trembaley, who has a gifted face that speaks through his eyes, is exceptionally good as the five-year-old with a tragic childhood. His camaraderie with Larson is at the centre of the film. She plays Ma with the many dimensions of a mother fiercely protective of her child, an unhappy daughter with resentment against her parents and a rape survivor who faces the world. If we look closely, a part of her childhood has also been lost.

While we see Jack take his time to comprehend the new world, Larson’s Ma suffers from the guilt of robbing her son of a childhood everyone deserves. The Room is about the irreparable damage that an extraordinary tragedy causes to our lives. And it is much bleaker than it is hopeful – underlined in the scene of Jack’s first glimpse of the world outside the room; it maybe sunny and bright, but for a person who’s lived underground for five years, it can be uncomfortably blinding too.

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