Monday, January 4, 2016

Room Review

It's almost time for me to reveal my favorite movies of the 2015. Before I do so, there's a few more movies that I need to catch up on. Room was one of the big ones that has been on my list of must see movies for a while now. It's one of those movies that showed up out of nowhere to receive huge praise and now there's talk about it being a contender for best picture at the Oscars. After looking at the trailers, the premise was intriguing and if it's as good as everyone claims it is, it was definitely a must see, even if I knew very little about it. It took a while for me to actually see it because it did a good job of avoiding me by not showing up in the theaters that I wanted it to show up in, but I finally caught it and I'm glad I did because this is a very interesting movie with a lot of themes to reflect. I may not be quite as high on it as some people are, but it's a movie that is well worth your time if you can find it at a place near you.

So what is the premise that I speak of? Well, we aren't told a whole lot to begin with, so I'm going to be walking on glass here, so to speak, as I describe this because I don't want to give too much away. Yet I know that many people reading this may not have even heard of this movie, so I want to give enough to intrigue you. Basically there is a big story going on around us and the movie starts out right in the middle of all the drama. We are in a 10 x 10 room of some sort with a mother and her five-year-old son. Something happened to mother seven years previous where she became trapped in this room by a certain person, causing her to spend many nights crying before she finally turned into a zombie. Then the little boy came from heaven and dropped into the scene and now the two are living together as they are both trapped in this room. You can probably put together the pieces based on what I just said, but that's essentially how the little boy described the situation as it's him that's narrating this story. In fact, it's his movie. Everything we learn and see are essentially from his perspective and that perspective is very limited because his mother has chosen to protect him by not saying anything.

As I reflected on the events of this movie, I got lost in deep thought as I pondered about the world as a whole and my place in it. For five years of his life, this boy is told that this room is all that there is in the world. There is a TV, but he's told everything in it is fake. All there is is outer space around them and the food that they are getting is coming there by magic from this other guy that shows up occasionally. Why is she telling him all of this when it's obviously not true? She's doing it to protect him from the horrible situation that they're in. It would be hard to convince an actual five-year-old boy of all of this if he had seen the outside world. But what if he hadn't? How's he supposed to know any better? Because he doesn't know any better, this is his world and he has fully accepted that. Thus his world is really big and he doesn't take anything for granted. Everything that's in his room is his friend, whether it's something inanimate like a chair or something like a mouse that's actually alive. It's really beautiful to watch and when you do realize what's actually happening, you have a ton of respect for the mother for protecting him in this way. It reminded me a lot of the movie Life is Beautiful wherein the father in that movie told his son that this whole World War II thing is a game in order to protect him from what's actually going on.

I don't want to talk much about the second half of the movie, but I will briefly say that the boy does learn that there is a world around him and his reaction to this is fantastic. Huge props go out to this young kid named Jacob Tremblay for pulling off this performance. Good child actors are hard to come by. I always grade child actors on a different scale than I do adult actors, but this performance by Jacob Tremblay is honestly one of the best performances by a child actor that I have ever seen. I kid you not when I say that. He does such a good job that it doesn't even feel like he's acting at all. It's as if he's living this situation on screen. I believe he's actually eight years old instead of five in real life, but that's just fine because he acts exactly like a five-year-old boy would act if he were in this situation. The first scene where he sees the outside world for the first time is a beautiful scene and his reaction to that is perfect. It's not a moment of wonder and awe for him. It's more of a look of confusion and disbelief as his whole world that he's ever known literally just changed and he doesn't know how to handle it.

Apparently much of the buzz around this film surrounds the performance of Brie Larson as the mother. She's the one that's actually being talked about as winning the best actress award at this year's Oscars. If she does, I'm definitely not going to complain. Her performance is absolutely amazing, especially the scenes she has with her son. That mother/son relationship is one of the best and most believable mother/son relationships on screen that I can think of right now. I just feel like given what she's been through that her character should've been a lot more broken than she is, which is why I personally would give more praise to the son. As I think about it, I should also give a lot of praise to the director or other crew members that worked with this kid to get this performance out of him. I feel there would have to be a lot of behind-the-scenes work in order to get the perfect performance out of him. It seems like there has to have been a whole lot of detailed thoughts going into exactly how they wanted him to react to each individual situation, big or small, because everything was perfect. This is his movie and he carries the whole thing. Which is why I'm really confused as to why the nominations he is getting are in supporting actor. Are they just too afraid to give an eight-year-old a best actor nomination? He's not in a supporting role. He's in the lead role. This is his movie. But oh well. Whatever.

As far as my biggest complaint for the movie, it has to do with the question of what genre the movie is. I'm going to dance around this a lot because I don't want things to be spoiled. We got partway into it when I wondered if this was a crime drama or a thriller. It kinda set itself up like that, but in the end it wasn't. As such, there are certain things about the actual story and situation that didn't seem super believable to me. Specifically, there is a chain of events that's the transition from the first half to the second half and if this situation were to play out in real life, I have a feeling that the events would be significantly different and thus it had me slightly disappointed. I think I would've liked this movie a lot more if it actually was a thriller, but instead it was just a character drama about a little boy's discovery of the world around him and the relationship he has with his mother. I don't want to knock it down too much because as is, it's a pretty darn good character drama with a beautiful mother/son relationship. Specifically there's a moment of dialogue at the end between the mother and the son that really got me. I'm not going to spoil it, but you should know it when it comes.

Overall, if Room comes to a theater near you, definitely go see it. There's a good chance that after we hear the Oscar nominations later this month that the movie will expand a bit as to satisfy the curiosity of those who are wondering what in the heck this Room movie is that just got all these nominations. It's a very beautiful movie with some powerful messages centering around the story of a boy who is discovering the real world for the very first time. It's a movie that will cause you to stop and reflect on life and your place in it. If you can believe, I did a lot of holding back when I discussed the specifics because there is a whole lot that can be discussed on this movie that I would rather you discover for yourself. This movie is the tale of two halves and I've spent most of the movie discussing the first half. Even then, there's a lot in the first half that I will also let you discover on your own. The transition between the two halves I found a bit rough, which is the main reason that I don't think I enjoyed this quite as much as some others have as this could be our best picture winner. But nonetheless, I give Room a 9/10.

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