I saw this little film in a theatre with only three other couples. The couple to my left got up and walked out after 15 minutes. The female half of the pair in front spent the movie texting.
The two women behind me kept up a running commentary on the movie. They started with a loud discussion about the gender of Jacob Tremblay’s character Jack. They concluded that he was indeed a boy, and had a good giggle about his waist-length hair.
The character actually has far bigger problems than looking a bit like a girl. Jack and his Ma (Brie Larson) have spent his entire five years of life in a locked, soundproofed shed that they call “Room”. They call their captor (Sean Bridgers) Old Nick.
Old Nick snatched a teenage Joy Newsome seven years ago, before she became Jack’s Ma. Every evening the captor visits with supplies and spends the night in Room while little Jack sleeps in a closet – Ma won’t let Old Nick see, touch or talk to the boy, and Old Nick seems to bow to her wishes on this.
Ma makes a bid for freedom by pretending Jack is sick and convincing Old Nick to take him to a hospital, so she makes herself vomit over Jack’s bed. The women behind me were revolted.
Ma and Jack eventually pull off a rather implausible escape, and wake up in hospital with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a vast cityscape. This seemed like a rapid adjustment for two people used to a cramped room with only a skylight. Soon, other characters start piling in: Ma’s divorced parents, lawyers, doctors, television hosts.
As with Emma Donoghue’s novel, her screenplay unfolds from Jack’s perspective. This is (I think) to stop Room from becoming too harrowing. But perhaps Joy’s/Ma’s recovery would have been more compelling and interesting.
There’s a great scene where she rails at her mother (Joan Allen) for raising her to be “nice”. Being nice got her kidnapped, she spits. Bree’s father (William H. Macy) gets a moment where he won’t acknowledge Jack, then Macy is out of the picture, never to be seen again. Even Larson is hauled off-screen in the final act as she recovers from a suicide attempt.
Instead we get screechy little Jack making cakes with grandma and getting a haircut. The women behind me were pleased.