Emma Donoghue's Room - Movie Review

11 January 2016

We're very excited to see Emma Donoghue's stunning novel Room on the silver screen and were delighted to hear that the film has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.
 
Pan Macmillan's Jodie Mullish was lucky enough to attend an early screening of the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue's bestselling novel, here's what she made of it. 
 

A novel written entirely from the point of view of a five year old and set in the very bleakest of circumstances is a risky proposition, but, in the skillful hands of writer Emma Donoghue, 2010’s Room was a critical and commercial hit.

It’s unsurprising to learn, then, that the Irish-Canadian author wrote the screenplay, and was closely involved in the production of what is a luminous and highly faithful film adaptation. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did) the film Room has already garnered a clutch of award nods, including Golden Globe, Bafta and Critics Choice Award nominations for Best Screenplay.

"It is easy to see why: the movie is as affecting, unnerving but ultimately uplifting as the novel"

Unusually, Room was shot more-or-less in sequence, in order that filming make more sense for young newcomer Jacob Tremblay, whose natural, at times heartbreakingly cheerful portrayal of Jack really makes the film. (Child actors are tricky: this could easily not have been the case.) The first half is set in the tiny room in which he and his mother, Ma, are imprisoned, and director Abrahamson cranks up the claustrophobia with close shots and drab, dank colours.

Brie Larson gives a wonderful performance as Ma, expertly portraying both the vulnerability of a helpless prisoner and the toughness of a mother willing to endure anything for her child. The bond between her and Jack is utterly convincing, as is his anger when she decides he is old enough to know that there is more to the world than Room, thereby sowing the seeds for their escape.

Despite having read the book twice and knowing how the story ends, the quality of the production renders Jack and Ma’s on-screen escape attempt gut-churningly tense. And once they are out in the real world (yes, this is a spoiler, but so is every poster for the movie… ) Jack’s reactions to it are beautiful. The entire second half is a huge sigh of relief.

Like the novel, Room the movie is emotionally taxing, but you’ll leave the cinema exalted, with the feeling that you have witnessed something of great quality, something unlikely to leave you for a very long time.

Watch the Room trailer now

Hear Emma Donoghue's take on the making of Room or listen to an audio snippet below. 

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