Room with a review

No sign of the Abrahamson/Guiney purple patch expiring on this fifth outing for the pair. Room, their adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel, is, very simply, a triumph of Irish cinema. Go see it. Here’s my Sunday Indo review.


Cert: 15A

THERE are moments in Room that quake the heart and mind like very few films you’ll see this year. It can be in a glancing expression, or a murmured line that pierces the darkness and uncertainty. Fans of Emma Donoghue’s all-conquering 2010 novel will be aware she adapted it for screen herself, and for this reason Lenny Abrahamson’s fifth film maintains many of the widescreen existential themes Donoghue squeezed into the story’s confined vista.

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay (both unforgettable) are the mother and five-year-old boy incarcerated in a locked room somewhere. Jack was born here and all he has ever known are the cups, chairs, television set and a sole skylight. By day he plays with “Ma” unaware of a dimension beyond these walls. By night, Ma places him in a small closet during visits by “Old Nick”, their captor.

Nature won’t be stifled, however, and Jack’s developing cognition along with his mother’s swelling determination that her son know the world outside spur on an escape plan. It’s spoiling nothing to say the second half is about the pair struggling to settle into their newfound freedom. Jack is still umbilically attached to Ma while she finds it hard to pick up where she left off with her parents (Joan Allen, William H Macy) and her life as a whole.

Room feels like the culmination of Irish cinema, a sublime interplay of story, talent, vision, sound (Stephen Rennick’s score is a key ingredient) and feeling that pushes rare buttons. As for Abrahamson? Well, for many years I swore he was among Europe’s finest film makers. Make that the world’s.


First published in the Sunday Independent


Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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