The movie Room tells a story that rips at the heart of any parent of a young woman. We see a mother (Brie Larson), parenting a son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), in the tiny confines of a yard shed.
As we enter the story, Ma gets Jack up out of bed. Jack makes the rounds of the small space saying hello to each object there. They eat breakfast and we watch as she tries to keep her 5-year-old occupied. For Jack, this is the world. This day is a special day because it is Jack’s birthday. Their routine gets interrupted by the making of a birthday cake. Jack is upset that there are no candles for his cake. Even living in this small world, he is still a child with a child’s needs and wants.
There is one window to the outside world. It is a skylight. Jack looks out it and believes that what is outside of it is space.
A television is in room (the space they occupy is never spoken of with an article). Jack believes that what is on television is make-believe.
After Jack goes to sleep in a small wardrobe, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) comes into room. There Old Nick sexual abuses Ma. Jack can only see him through the slats that make up the doors. Nick discovers that Jack has a birthday. He says he is going to bring the boy a gift. One of the keys to the story is that here is the man who is Jack’s father, but he knows nothing of the child.
When Nick returns he brings a radio-controlled truck. Jack plays with it for awhile. But later, in a fit of anger, he pulls the wheels off it.
Not too long after this, Ma commits an indiscretion and Nick turns the power off in the shed. It is winter and there is no heat or hot water for them. This prompts Ma make a decision.
She decides that she must do something to save herself and her child. The plan she comes up with is to make Jack fake being sick and attempt to force Nick to take him to the emergency room. She rehearses with Jack what he is to do when there. But there is a huge problem.
Jack has no point of reference of there being a world beyond room. All of his existence has been in the 10-by-10 space of the shed. The nature of the outside world is something he has trouble comprehending.
The ruse does not work. Nick believes the story that Jack got sick because the space is cold. But Nick is not going to risk taking the boy out. He knows the consequences if the boy is found out.
Ma next tells Jack to play dead. She is going to roll him up in a rug. Then Nick will take Jack outside and drive him away. When Nick stops, Jack is to get out of the rug and run to an adult.
This happens and Jack is found and turned over to the police. The police piece together what happened and go and release Ma.
But this is not the end. What follows is the re-introduction of Ma, whose name is Joy Newsome, to her family and Jack to his grandparents. This is where the movie becomes important viewing.
Most movies would have ended with the release, but the re-integration back into the family of origin is where this movie puts itself above others.
What we witness is a child trying to find his way in a world he did not existed until his liberation. But the greater part of the story is Joy’s attempts to reconnect with family.
Her parents are now divorced. Her mother (Joan Allen) is not married to Leo. It would seem that the stress of Joy’s abduction sent deep fissures into the marriage. We see this when Joy’s father (William H. Macy) becomes very distant.
Add to this that Joy was taken at age 17, when most people are just emerging from being a teen to being an adult. There are many things that need to be dealt with that should have happened over time and there are things that are said that probably would need the same time to help in the healing.
What Room does is show us the power of family. Family of origin is the biggest marker many of us bear. Room shows us the importance of family and how family acts to turn us into the people that we are. It is a fine movie and worthy of its nomination for Best Picture of 2015.
Rated R for language
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Emma Donoghue
With: Brie Larson (Ma/Joy), Jacob Tremblay (Jack), Sean Bridgers (Old Nick), Joan Allen (Nancy), William H. Macy (Robert), Tom McCamus (Leo)