7:00 PM, 5th March, 2016
Today is Jack’s (Tremblay) birthday. He’s turning five and is looking forward to all manner of birthday festivities with his Ma (Larson). Although this may seem perfectly normal, Jack is no ordinary child. He has lived his entire life to date confined to a single room, which he affectionately/euphemistically calls ‘Room’. This single space – with four walls, a skylight and a few pieces of furniture – is the only world Jack has ever known.
The reality of the situation, however, is far worse. Jack’s mother was kidnapped as a teenager and imprisoned in a soundproof shed, where she has been repeatedly raped ever since by Old Nick. Now, seven years later, Ma is 24 and a mother, and must continue to survive while attempting to raise her child with as much normalcy as possible. But how normal can life be when food is granted or withheld on a whim, and Old Nick pays her a return ‘visit’ every night? Will Jack and Ma ever see the outside world again? And, if so, how would they even cope?
Haunting, powerful and unbearably tense, Room is unique in today’s spectacle-driven cinematic landscape: a rare film in which less is indeed more. It is tough viewing, however, and you will probably want to walk out in the first hour – but don’t. Stick with it and you will be rewarded with an unforgettable, moving and honest tale of courage and enduring love, featuring two of the best performances of the year hands down.
9:07 PM, 5th March, 2016
After the brilliant Oscar-winning 2009 Argentinian original, El secreto de sus ojos, I looked forward to the US remake with anticipation and some little trepidation, given Hollywood’s track record. The movie’s plot, transported to Los Angeles from Buenos Aires, is reasonably faithful to the original, in which here FBI agent Ray (the excellent Ejiofor) obsessively pursues the brutal murderer of a young woman over thirteen years, beyond his FBI service. The murder victim’s grief-stricken mother is friend, LA District Attorney’s Office Investigator Jess, played against type by a bedraggled Julia Roberts. The principal’s love interest is the Assistant District Attorney – later DA – Claire (Kidman).
The main difference here is the original’s setting against the backdrop of the rule of the Argentinian military junta, which is busily ‘disappearing’ thousands of Argentine citizens, and where delivering justice for a murder victim is of no concern. The equivalent plot device here ‘fits’ to a reasonable degree, however the story’s frequent switches back and forth between the present and past can at times lack clarity.
The cast performs well with the material at hand and the denouement is similar, but to me with not quite the impact of the original. Overall, however, the movie is a watchable and entertaining journey. Come along, then go see the original and make your comparisons.