Last year Lenny Abrahamson gave us a quirky film about a rock singer who wore a giant Papier-mâché head while performing. Room is no less high concept but all the more effective, taking Emma Donoghue’s bestseller and crafting a taut, compelling thriller with a career defining performance by its lead.
We’re introduced to Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay), two characters with long hair clearly making a go in a cramped environment. There’s chair one and chair two, wardrobe, skylight – all prosaic, pedestrian objects that quite literally embody the small universe that Jack has known all his short life.
Part of the thrill of the film is how it plays out, so for those who haven’t yet read the novel I’d hold off. Suffice to say that the narrative is extremely intelligent, taking the story in oft times surprising ways. Yet it’s the performances by Larson and Tremblay, along with Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Deadwood’s Sean Bridgers providing rich support.
Far more than simply a one-note idea, this deeply nuanced film delves into the psychology of the situation, creating real suspense and anxiety throughout. An art film with bite, an accessible genre picture with a rare elegance, this is may well be one of the top films of the year.