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Trivia / Goofs
Summary / Analysis
Times of India
A mother and her child are held under virtual house arrest by a man. Their only outlet to reality is a television and a skylight. They manage to escape. But will they also be able to rebuild their lives again after a past of such intolerable and despicable cruelty? And will their lives ever be the same again?
While we've all been blitzed by blockbusters in recent times, the sound of a solid story still resounds underground - a tale that rests easy on the bedrock of performances that seem more human than human. Reel imitating real in a beautiful sense.
Ma, also known as Joy in the film, (Larson) and Jack (Tremblay) have been tormented and troubled tenfold by Old Nick (Bridgers), a knave who keeps his captives quiet in a shed, cloaked under a veil of fear and loathing, with a great deal of paranoia and psychosis too. Joy is routinely raped by Jack but by some measure of superwoman courage and resilience, she manages to keep her kid Jack away from any influences mean and nasty. But there is only so much that she can do and bear, and there is only so much that she can take, before her own resources fail her.
The camera work is suitably intimate and unobtrusive. To the director's credit, you almost feel that you are a fly on the wall - privy to a family's heartrending tale of troublesome trial and redemption. Sure, those among you who want to see something fast-paced will find yourselves in the wrong cinema hall. But if you just open your mind and let yourself be immersed in this narrative, you might find a few rich rewards.
More than anything though, this is a beautiful tale of a mother's love for her child, selfless and pure. Joy will do anything - and she does indeed - to ensure the well being of her charge. And yet, their existence is curiously symbiotic. Very few movies are able to touch upon the bond between a mother and child with such tender grace, set in contemporary times.
Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel Room isn't made of stuff you'd usually earmark for bedtime reading. Five-year-old Jack finds that the limits of his world have never extended beyond a single shed. Joy, his mother who he calls Ma, has been held captive by Old Nick for seven years. Imagination, she finds, can be her only escape. Ma invents for her son a reality that is wholesome. While most mothers insist to their children that what they are watching on television isn't real, Joy does the opposite. She convinces Jack that the world is no more real than what he sees on TV. The blurb of the novel spoke of Old Nick repeatedly raping Joy. The Booker nominee was for the brave.
'Dark', an easily thrown around word, was obviously an adjective that came to mind when anticipating the cinematic adaptation of a book widely hailed as masterful. Director Lenny Abrahamson could have quite easily resorted to pregnant silences and sudden intrusions. Their eerie bleakness would have made an already hopeless situation more torturous, but thankfully, the filmmaker's concerns seem exquisitely abstract. We see Jack (Jacob Tremblay) as a child we are forced to recognise as androgynous. His long hair is girl-like and his questions reflect existential questions that plague not just his, but arguably all our minds, right since we contemplated our place in the world.
Joy (Brie Larson) is resilient in a manner only mothers are touted to be. She doesn't seem to be in denial of her obvious pain, but in moments when she explains to Jack the workings of the universe, that one inescapable 'Room' comes to include possible solutions to a larger melancholy that embraces us all. Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) is seen in snatches, but violence and terror again seem to be a monopoly of the male. Joy asks Jack at one point, "You know how Alice wasn't always in Wonderland?" She then continues, "I wasn't always in Room. I am like Alice." Given her ability to make the worst situations appear redemptive, Alice is perhaps the best counterpart a Joy could find.
There is good news. Jack and Joy do escape the tyranny and cyclical violence they were subjected to. Larson and Tremblay, both of who stun with their performances, seem to portray two characters from a Freudian case study. Jack wants to go back to the Room, a space where his mother played a hundred roles in her effort to offer him plenitude. Joy is unable to comprehend the world with an ease that the company of just one child affords. With rage, depression and confusion proving consuming, there is still tragedy ahead. But strangely, the film stays optimistic all the way through.
Love is not easy to theorise, and is even more difficult to cinematically adapt. But it is this 'love', one which allows mothers and sons to survive in this big bad world that wins the day. The world is not nice to Joy (it never is) but she finds a way of contextualising the rancour. If you are a sucker for films and other narratives where adversity is trumped, watch Room. Put succinctly, it makes room for greater joy.
Before Brie Larson was finalized, Shailene Woodley, Emma Watson and Rooney Mara were considered for the lead role.
Brie Larson has used no make-up at all in the film and she avoided washing her face to make it apparent on cam that there was no make-up.
Brie said in an interview that her role in ‘Room’ has made her understand her mother better and has also brought her closer to her mom.
To prepare for the role of ‘Joy,’ Larson isolated herself for a few months and also went on a strict diet.
The antagonist in the movie is called ‘Old Nick’ which in Christianity is another name for the ‘Devil’ used in the early 17th century.
In the final scene of the film, production designer Ethan Tobman wanted a snowy backdrop, but since artificial snow was going beyond budget, Ethan dropped the idea. However, when the scene was to be shot, it actually started snowing fulfilling Tobman’s originally wish.
Joy and her five-year-old son Jack live in a squalid shed they call Room. They share a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and rudimentary kitchen; the only window is a skylight. They are captives of a man they call Old Nick, Jack's father, who abducted Joy seven years ago, and routinely rapes her while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe. She tries to stay optimistic for her son, but is sometimes overcome with depression and is suffering from malnutrition. She allows Jack to believe that only Room and its contents are "real," and that the rest of the world exists only on television.
Old Nick tells Joy that he has lost his job and threatens that he may not be able to afford their supplies in the future. She decides to tell Jack about the outside world; he reacts with disbelief and incomprehension. She trains him to fake a fever, hoping that Old Nick will take him to a hospital, but Old Nick says he will return with antibiotics. Joy wraps Jack in a carpet and has him play dead in the hope that Old Nick will remove him from Room. Falling for the ruse, Old Nick places Jack in the back of his pickup truck and drives through a residential neighborhood. Although stunned by his first exposure to the outside world, Jack jumps from the truck and attracts the attention of a passer-by. The police rescue Joy and she and Jack are taken to a hospital. Joy learns her parents have divorced and that her mother has a new husband, Leo. She returns with Jack to her childhood home where her mother and Leo reside. Her father cannot accept Jack and leaves. Jack initially struggles to adjust to life in the larger world, speaking only to his mother and expressing a desire to return to Room. Joy struggles with anger and depression, arguing with her mother and reacting angrily during a television interview. She attempts suicide and is admitted to a hospital. Jack begins to settle into his new life. He bonds with his new family and Leo's dog, and plays with a boy his age. He has his grandmother cut his long hair for the first time so he can send the trimmings to Joy in the hospital. Joy returns home and thanks Jack for saving her life again. At Jack's request, they visit Room, escorted by police. Jack feels it has shrunk and that it is a different place with the door open. He and Joy say their goodbyes to Room and leave.