Klavan On The Culture

Room

It took me a long time to work up to seeing Roomthe Oscar-nominated drama based on the novel by Emma Donoghue. The story of a woman and her son imprisoned in a shed by a rapist didn’t sound like my idea of entertainment. But in fact, the picture, now out on video, manages to avoid any hint of prurience and is carefully calibrated not to make its audience squirm. Brie Larson won the Oscar for her performance as the imprisoned Ma. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as her 5-year-old son, who doesn’t even know the outside world exists. And nowhere near enough has been said about Joan Allen, who plays Larson’s mother, and is so good her acting is virtually invisible.

The film elevates itself most by its treatment of the villain. By refusing to follow his story, by having his fate worked out in the background on television and in asides, it reduces him to his true moral stature: non-entity. As in Revenant, the filmmakers manage to convey a sense that, in spite of all the ugliness and cruelty permeating the movie’s events, the only thing that really matters, that’s really worth paying attention to, is the love.

It’s a well-made, well-acted and touching film. In spite of the subject matter, it’s uplifting and sticks with you.

More about this on my podcast here.