Just as I was marking my calendars for November 6, the success of this film’s limited release meant the film ended up expanding early. And wouldn’t you know it, it was playing in a theater near me. Now, let’s cut to the chase – this is my #1 film of 2015, and it’s highly likely it will remain that way. This is an absolutely incredible film.
But the book is better.
I guess I can’t get too upset about that. There are some stories that work the best as one specific medium. Room is superior as a novel. But while there are one or two things that I might have done differently, Lenny Abrahmson does an amazing job at adapting this book. And let’s face it, this is not an easy book to adapt into a film.
Now this review will likely contain spoilers, so be warned. While the film is very faithful to the book, there are a few slight changes. And while some of the changes are better than others, the feel of the book is kept in much of the story. It is very fortunate that Emma Donoghue ended up penning the screenplay, as it’s likely that another writer would have befuddled the whole thing. Donaghue does a brilliant job with deciding how to handle her material, which could very well earn her the Adapted Screenplay Oscar.
One thing I found to be interesting is that Jack and Ma (I’m not calling her Joy) escape Room a lot earlier in the film than they do in the book. Like the book, I find the first half in Room to be better than the second half in the outside world. The structure is very difficult to adapt into a film, but Abrahmson understands what makes this story work, and he impressed me at how well he pulled this off.
I think that this film might not be as successful as it is without its cast. Sean Bridgers does what he can with a thankless role, while William H. Macy shows some fine acting chops. Joan Allen ended up surprising me, as she has a stronger role here than in the book. A Best Supporting Actress nod would not be entirely unwarranted.
Jacob Tremblay is very impressive here. Aside from a few moments where he gets angry (which are wonderfully acted) he’s a very passive player, but his moments of reaction are flawlessly realized. For someone so young, he really sells that he’s seeing everything for the first time. Although, after seeing the movie, I realize how ridiculous it is that he’s being pushed supporting.
And then we have Brie Larson. It’s a little weird, as I realize now that it was impossible for Larson to meet my unrealistically high expectations. But to be fair, she came pretty close. All joking aside, she’s amazing in this role, offering up a more subtle side to Ma than what I saw in the book. She seems a lot more like a real person. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that her inevitable Best Actress win will be very warranted.
The film also has very effective cinematography in both the first and second halves. The editing is a tad better in the first half, but still noteworthy in the second half. The score by Stephen Rennicks is effective, and a definite contender if this film is gonna be a major Oscar player, and I think it will be. It definitely deserves to be.
P.S. I’m trying to work out my Best Actor winner for the year and I can’t decide between two boy wonders. Abraham Attah or Jacob Tremblay? If you’ve seen both movies, sound off in the comments about which performance is better.