Here Shane Croghan reviews the film Room, and explains why it was so worthy of an Oscar nomination.
The Oscar nominated Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s captivating novel, is a triumph for Irish cinema, and a refreshing break from the countless blockbusters which have dominated the silver screen of late.
With the Academy Awards fast-approaching, a win for Abrahamson would cement his status as one of this country's finest film-makers and propel him into global stardom.
Room may draw some inspiration from horrific real life cases of kidnapping, imprisonment and long-term abuse, but its story is more universal than that.
It is a tale of parenthood and mental fortitude, a testament to the human ability to find a glimmer of light in the darkest corners of life.
One of the film's main strengths comes from the involvement of Donoghue, who turned her attention from the page to the screen, writing the Oscar nominated screenplay.
This involvement, alongside Abrahamson’s careful direction, ensures that the heart of the novel remains intact during the transition.
The narrative of Room is a mesh of beauty and horror and the script remains true to this, without being overly rigid in adapting the book.
The film, despite some excellent turns by the likes of Joan Allen and William H. Macy, belongs to the young mother and son leads.
Brie Larson, surely the favourite for Best Actress at the Oscars, brings something of her Short Term 12 character to the role of Joy, portraying the strength and fragility of damaged humanity. Her connection with Jacob Tremblay, in the role of her son, Jack, is the crux of Room.
Jack, in many ways, is the main character of the film, providing the audience with a naïve, untainted perspective of the world. His world is “room”, the tiny shed which has been his entire life.
Cinematographer Danny Cohen carefully places his camera to make the cramped prison seem like a wide, open space, showing us Jack's bizarre world through his own eyes.
This unique perspective adds a sense of wonder to the derelict backyard shed which acts as the setting for a large chunk of the film.
The emotional resonance of the narrative is the key to the success of Room and each component of the film-making serves to enhance this emotion of the story, just as it should be.
Stephen Rennick’s touching score, in particular, adds another layer of feeling to some of the film’s key scenes, just when you thought there was no more left to give.
Despite the specific kind of horror contained within the film’s premise, the themes it portrays are universally touching and Abrahamson is perfectly aware of this, employing every tool at his disposal to connect with the audience.
Room is restrained and touching, pulling some kind of twisted beauty from the inherently awful situation faced by Joy and Jack. It manages to remain emotionally resonant throughout and, in parts, it’s just as thrilling as any big-budget action film.
It might be an outside bet to take home the Best Picture Oscar, but it’s just as deserving as any of the other nominees.