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Directed by—Lenny Abrahamson
Room is a powerful, affecting story of the love between a mother and son. Adapted for the screen by Emma Donoghue and based on her much-lauded novel of the same name, which drew inspiration from the Fritzl case in Austria, this is one of the most talked about films of the Oscar season.
Ma and Jack live together in a single room, equipped with a bed, toilet, bathtub, TV, and small kitchen. The film opens on Jack’s fifth birthday. Their isolated situation becomes apparent when we meet Old Nick, the man who abducted Ma (otherwise known as Joy) seven years ago. Old Nick keeps Ma and Jack, the son he sired, locked in his garden shed. For Jack, the shed is all he has ever known and the images on the TV are magic, not things that actually exist. When Old Nick tells Ma that he has lost his job, and threatens that he may not be able to keep bringing them supplies, she realises that time is running out and concocts a risky plan for their escape. First, she must convince Jack that there is something outside of “Room”, the small world she has built for them.
Room is up for several awards at the 2016 Oscars, including best picture and a nomination for Brie Larson (Ma) as best actress. Larson’s performance as Ma is stunning, shifting between strength and vulnerability, aptly capturing the stress of caring for a young son in an unimaginably bleak reality. The chemistry between Larson and the young lead, Jacob Tremblay, is what makes the film such a convincing portrayal of love—it’s hard to watch the pair under threat. In writing her story, Donoghue wanted to focus on the bond between mother and son, rather than the evil that is perpetrated by humans. It is this relationship that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.