HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:77
I have to say that I’m flabbergasted that Jacob Tremblay didn’t win an Oscar (or at least was nominated) for “Room”. Brie Larson got nominated for Best Actress, but the entire crux of the film and its emotional pull on the viewer is through Jacob Tremblay’s portrayal of 5 year old Jack In the movie. We see so many actors get nominated every year, with some winning multiple awards, but I really feel as if the young child was looked over for a truly phenomenal portrayal of a child coming into the world that he knows nothing about. There are aspects of the movie that may frustrate me ever so slightly, but his character never once made me not want to simply marvel at his transformation.
I sadly can’t give an honest review of “Room” without delving into spoilers. The movie makes it LITERALLY impossible to do so unless you want me to say “It was a good movie, the end”. In fact the trailer and tag line for the movie on IMDB give away part of the film and does to its detriment I might add. So for those of you who are sensitive to spoilers I would suggest just skipping to the audio/video specs and going in blind.
The film opens with mother Joy (Brie Larson) and her five year old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) living in an 11x11 room with no windows except for a skylight. They go about their daily exercises, brush their teeth, and do what normal people do…. Except for them they can’t leave the room. No one knows WHY exactly, but you get the idea that something terrible has happened outside. One man, known as Old Nick (Sean Bridges) brings them supplies and food every week, but they aren’t allowed out of the cramped room. As time progresses you get the idea that Old Nick is not nearly as benevolent as it would seem at first, and the pieces slowly start coming together. Joy was kidnapped 7 years ago and is the prisoner of Old Nick along with a son that he has sired during that 7 year stint. Joy has had to raise Jack as best she can in an 11x11 room and even gone so far as to teach the boy that all those wonderful things he sees on television are just make believe, and that this room is all they have.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67289[/img]A 2 hour film would be hard pressed to go the whole time with Joy and Jack living in their room, and that first half is decidedly a bit more sluggish than the rest of the film. In a twist of fate and determination, Joy is able to get Jack out of the room and soon, brings the authorities back to the room where she and her child are FINALLY free from 7 years of captivity. This swelling climax to the film’s first half is intense and emotional as could possibly be imagined, but this is only the beginning for the two. Now that they’re out in the real world (so to speak) the two have to come to grips with living in a way that is foreign to them. Jack is like a 5 year old newborn. The room that has been his home for every second of his existence is gone and he is exposed to a world that is not even remotely familiar to him except through glimpses on the TV. Family outside of his ma is a chore and even the day to day choices that would seem natural to a normal 5 year old are terrifying. Joy herself has to deal with her problems too, especially being let free after being captured as a teenager and forced to live her young adult days as a prisoner of a man who abused her physically and mentally. These choices and adaptations to the world are what make up the entire second half of the film, making it easily the best half of the movie.
The first half of the movie is basically an isolated film about a boy and his mother (except for the occasional sideways glimpse of Old Nick), but the second half opens up into a much more star studded cast. William H. Macy makes a short appearance as Joy’s birth father, and Joan Allen takes up a large portion of the second half as her mother. The entire family has been fractured since Joy’s kidnapping, as the two parents have split up (which is actually quite common after a child is lost like that) and Nancy (Joy’s mother) is living with her new husband, Leo (Tom McCamus). Joy is a complete and total wreck after coming out. All the strength and motherly tenacity that she showed inside the “room” makes way for a woman who dealing with the grief of a lost childhood and a violated spirit, now that she has time for such things. Poor Jack is the real focus of the movie though. His coming forth into the world and exploring it as a newborn would. His performance is the crux of the entire film and Jacob Tremblay does it magnificently to boot. Child actors are usually known for poor to decent performances, but Jacob’s is good enough to rival any Oscar contender this year with ease.
Rated R for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67297[/img]Shot 100% digitally with the Red Epic series of digital cameras, “Room” was given a 4K mastering (taken from a 6K source file, which should make a good master if Lionsgate decides to release it on UltraHD 4K) and the results have to be assessed in two chunks. The first half of the film is rather dim, as all you can see in the lighting department is a single bulb that illuminates the dingy little room they call home. Blacks are decent, but the constant low level lighting introduced some digital noise and a little bit of banding here and there. Detail is great for the most part, but the same low level lighting DOES rob some of the finest details at times. However, once the two escape into the real world it’s a much bright color palette. With strong whites and brilliant contrast levels the whole world is incredibly shiny and robust with colors. Fine detail is amazing and the black levels are near perfection. The digital noise and banding seemed to fade into the background as the bright scenario is much more forgiving on the digital source.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67305[/img]As you could have guessed from the scenario, “Room” has a fairly subdued and quite DTS-HD MA 5.1 track on board. The first half of the film is mainly dialog with a few tinny sounds that echo off the walls of the shed they’re locked in. Even when the movie opens up into the real world there isn’t a whole lot of LFE or surround activity. There is some with regular ambient noises from cars pulling up, or the focused noises that Jack hears when he wakes up in the hospital, but other than that it’s a simple, straight forward track that does very well with all the tools at its disposal but is ultimately a fairly laid back track.
• Audio Commentary with Director Lenny Abrahamson, Cinematographer Danny Cohen, Editor Nathan Nugent and Production Designer Ethan Tobman
• Making "Room"
• Recreating "Room"
“Room” can sometimes be a tough film to sit through, not by any major fault of its own though. It’s more the discomfort of watching a movie as a parent and seeing the agony and pain caused by the initial kidnapping. The movie knows just how to play the heart strings though, and by the mid part of the movie you’re already exhausted from what seems like the climax, only to have there be an entirely new sub story that will have you snuffling just as much by the end of the 2 hours as we were upon Jack’s triumphant escape. Audio and video look very nice and the extras actually have quite a few goodies to keep the interest level high, especially with the commentary. Definitely recommended for a watch.
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Written by: Emma Donoghue
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 118 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 1st 2016
Buy Room On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
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