Although shortened and accelerated, Room is still a fitting adaptation true to Emma Donoghue’s novel. Some of the nuance is lost in transition from page to screen, but the story is told as much as it probably can be on film from the point of view of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), whose fifth birthday begins our involvement. Tremblay, who is seven years old, does an astounding job; he uses silence as much as sound to convey what’s going on in Jack’s head. Brie Larson as Jack’s mother, Joy, is quietly intense, at least until later; when she explodes, however, her intensity is a bit overdone. Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) initially is shown only in intermittent bits and pieces, keeping his role in the story a mystery– a nice touch. Joan Allen and Tom McCamus, the latter arguably the sole redeeming male character aside from Jack, serve as calming anchors. William H. Macy appears very briefly as Joy’s father.
Director Lenny Abrahamson definitely gives us the claustrophobic feel of “Room.” His depiction of Jack’s foray into “World” about halfway through is the most intense and suspenseful part of the film; I literally held my breath at points. It was done really well, using choppy, moving camera work and tweaky color to illustrate the foreign, unfamiliar appearance of mundane objects to Jack– and how trippy his first experience outside is for him. The rest of the film is quieter, focusing on both Jack and his mother’s assimilation into the real world (Akron, Ohio, in the film– I don’t remember that from the book). I suspect most will agree that the first half of Room is far more compelling. Still, it’s worth seeing and the story will stick with you after it’s over.
(Landmark Century) B