Film Title: Room
Book Title: Room
Release Year: 2015
Summary: Trapped in a single room, a mother attempts to raise her young son while simultaneously plotting escape and dreaming of a return to a free life.
What I Thought: I read Room in my pre-blogging days. In fact, it was one of the books that urged me to start the blog. I loved it so much and wanted a space to talk about it, among others. Four years later, here I am reviewing the film adaptation.
I was quite apprehensive about how it would play out. I had no doubt it would be good - look at all the Oscar nominations and awards it received! Yet, this is a perfect example of how two different mediums must tell the same story differently.
When reading the book, the reader spends quite a while just trying to figure out what is going on. As in the movie, Jack, the little boy, serves as narrator and the lens through which we see the story. In the book, Emma Donoghue reveals the fullness of the situation slowly. Little by little, you realize the extent of the terrible situation in which Jack and Ma (Joy) find themselves. The slow reveal is part of Donoghue's mastery. Obviously, this simply was not going to play out the same way on film. Seeing their cramped quarters and shabby belongings happens in an instant, rather than over dozens of pages.
Yet, in a credit to the director, the actors, the screenwriters, and the whole crew of the film, it works. It works incredibly. The film is phenomenal. It's moving and emotional and I cried through the whole freaking thing. I mean it. I am not a usually a big crier, but I wept through this whole movie. At the end, Kevin patted my leg and said, "That was pretty emotional for you, wasn't it?" He said he didn't feel emotionally moved, just stressed through the whole movie.
I thought our different reactions said a lot about how men and women look at a situation like this. For me, I identified as a woman. No matter your walk of life, if you are a woman, you have, at one point or another, been afraid of sexual violence. Many have endured it. To be raising a child, the child of your rapist, in that scenario would only intensify the broad spectrum of emotions. I am not a mother, but I am watching my friends become mothers and raise their children so I have at least some basic knowledge of the emotions involved in the role and how they would change if you were a captive. To watch another woman, even a fictional one, live out our worst nightmare is powerful. Brie Larson offers an incredibly moving, relatable performance - one for which she absolutely deserves the Oscar she won. She is all of us, doing the best we can in the worst situation. Most men, on the other hand, have not experienced the fear of this scenario. The likelihood of it happening to them is infinitely smaller. Thus, I think Kevin reacted as a husband and someone who abhors abuse, particularly of women and children. He reacted as a protector, stressed because he wanted to reach in be the rescuer for Jack and Joy. I'm extrapolating a bit as he didn't express all this explicitly, but I know us each well enough to decipher the root of our reactions. Either way, there was no denying that the movie was a powerful experience for us both, not simply because of its excellence, but also because of its ability to connect with our core fears and desires.
After we watched it, I tweeted about it. Though I don't often do this with the entertainment we consume, I felt the need to continue to spread the word about this one. As hard as it is to watch, I think everyone should. I was pretty excited when Brie Larson herself favorited my tweet. A small thing, but I'm glad my message of appreciation reached her. She cannot get enough accolades for that performance.
— Alise Napp (@alise_napp) March 6, 2016
I hope, by this point, I have convinced you to watch the movie if you have not already. I do not know what else I can said other than continually expressing how truly great it is. If you, like us, are in continually pursuit of the next really great movie, this one will fulfill that need. Just be sure to have a box of tissues at the ready.
Will I Re-Watch: At some point, probably.
A Reduced Review: Though originally skeptical about how this story would translate to the screen, I found it a masterful adaptation.