- “See it and be transformed.”
- “Room is a one-of-a-kind must-see experience.”
- “An ode to the bond between mother and son.”
- “Life-affirming and awe-inspiring.”
- “A triumph.”
- “An enthralling film.”
These are some of the comments on a publicity poster of the movie. I agree with every one of them.
Room is based on a book by Emma Donoghue. The cryptic, single-word title camouflages its layered and dark subject matter. A young mother (24 years old) has been held in captivity for seven years after being tricked and kidnapped. She lives in a room that is about six-foot by eight-foot with her five-year-old son, the result of visits by her captor. She schemes a dangerous escape and the movie is like a suspense thriller, a trauma-drama and a life-affirming tearjerker all rolled into one!
It is in the constricted space that provides the safety and security for a mother and son’s imagination to grow. There’s something dangerous about this place, but the dangers are clear. There is a forest around the shed but it is warm while the fears are the unknown outside, where “nothing means what it seems to mean and people’s reactions and motivations are unclear”.
There are many dark themes here — of kidnapping, sexual assault, imprisonment, depression and suicide.
Two of the scenes that got me scrambling for tissue paper are when the boy is trying to answer the policewoman’s questions in the patrol car when he is found and when the boy narrated to his grandma what he did in the wardrobe in the room in the garden shed. Two statements by the young mother moved me to the core; one of which is when she declares, “I just want to connect with something. I’m supposed to be happy. You have no idea what’s in my head.” This hints of her depressive state of mind. I think a new idea germinates in her mind when she is asked, “Did you ever consider taking your own life?” She is also asked if she ever considered if her son had a normal childhood and if that was the best for him. She thus feels she is “not a very good mother”, but her son assured her, “but you are Ma”.
A third scene that brought tears to my eyes is when the boy asked his grandma for a pair of scissors so that he could (finally) cut his hair because he wants grandma to send it to Ma (at hospital, after the suicide attempt) because “she needs it more than me, she neeeds my strong”.
Towards the end of the film, the boy says, “When I was four, I didn’t even know about Bora. and now we are going to live here forever. There are so many things out here. And sometimes it’s scary. But it’s okay because it’s just you and me.” He asks his Ma, “Can we go back to the room? Just for a visit.” When they visit the shed with police escort, he asks his Ma, “Is this our room? What happened to it? Did it go and shrink?” He concludes that “It’s because the door’s open. It can’t really be a room if the door’s open.” Finally, he bids the few items still in the room (eg the sink, toilet, wardrobe) goodbys and asks his Ma to do so too, which she did, under her breath.
This is one movie where the music does not play a significant role because there is so much of everything else, but there are still more than half a dozen different songs and pieces of music.