Film Review: Room

Room post big

Room Plot Summary:

A mother (Brie Larson) and five year old son (Jacob Tremblay) must survive a horrible ordeal that will test them physically, and eventually psychologically, as the mother fights to get her life back, all while keeping her son safe.

I apologize for the most cryptic plot summary I’ve ever given.  I’m really pulling a Christopher Nolan here.  This is truly one of those movies where you should know as little as possible going in.  If Room were a superhero film, the internet would be having panic attacks over the lack of information provided.  My job as a critic is to convey how great this movie is with very little plot detail.  Fortunately, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay make that task a hell of a lot easier.

Room Poster

I doubt Room will get a lot of attention, but I’m pretty confident in saying Brie Larson will get an Oscar nomination.  Larson plays a young mother who’s not exactly in a great state of mind.  Let’s just say the last few years have been rough, aside from one crucial detail – her son, Jack, played by Tremblay.  We’ll get to him, but this movie begins and ends with Larson’s gut-wrenching performance.  She plays so many emotions, I can’t even keep track.  She’s like the swiss army knife of acting.  It’s tough to act with this amount of strength and fierceness in any movie, but the situation her character gets thrown into is especially difficult, but Larson nails it.  When the other shoe drops, and Larson has to portray complete vulnerability and weakness, she’s equally up to the task.  This is one hell of a performance, and reminds me a lot of Natalie Portman in Black Swan.  It’s that good.

We don’t get many great child actors, but I can honestly say this is the best kid performance since Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, and I imagine Tremblay is a lot younger.  Tremblay is an exceptionally compelling figure in this movie, playing at very complex emotions.  In one of the tensest and biggest turning points in the movie, Tremblay commands the screen like so many other great actors would.  I’m not sure if he’ll get a nomination, but he’ll be talked about.  The chemistry between him and Larson is incredible.  There’s great love between a mother and son like you would expect, but also moments of frustration, and even resentment because of the situation these characters are involved in.  It creates a wallop of a ride that both actors handle flawlessly, so I guess we got to thank the director (Lenny Abrahamson) for that.

Abrahamson does a great job of giving you the least amount of information from scene to scene.  You know just enough to grasp what’s going on, so the engagement is always there.  The first five minutes you’re thinking this is a standard tale of a poor mother desperately trying to provide for her son, but you quickly grasp at what’s really going on.  The first half is very tense and suspenseful, whereas the second is a more straight up drama and character study.  The two halves compliment each other well.  Larson and Tremblay carry the movie, but it’s also littered with great supporting roles including Tom McCamus, William H. Macy and Joan Collins.  If I had one complaint, it would be the awkward voiceovers from Tremblay, but as the movie goes on they make more sense.

All you have to know about this movie is that it’s a tense, well-constructed story with a great mother/son focus, anchored by two great actors.  It also randomly uses the Moneyball trailer music, so I guess they ran out of score budget?  In any case, go see a movie with limited knowledge.  You might like it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.