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The power of horror and hope

The power of horror and hope
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A strange, even weird story of a woman and her child locked up in a dingy room for seven years is the meat of ‘Room’. In due time we realise that the...

A strange, even weird story of a woman and her child locked up in a dingy room for seven years is the meat of ‘Room’. In due time we realise that the long-haired kid is a five-year-old boy, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his “Ma” is Joy Newsome (Brie Larson). It is all about their ordeal there and out of it.

The squalid space has a bed, toilet, bathtub and a rudimentary kitchen and Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) visits off and on only to sexually abuse Joy who makes Jack sleep in a wardrobe during that time. A skylight is their only look into the outside world. The duo has been in the room for seven years, which means the boy was born in it (is that a flaw?).

Jack is read stories like “The Count of Monte Cristo” by his mother. He soon believes he has a dog and even befriends a mouse before Ma kills it. Much as they love each other, they often get into heated quarrels. Sadistic Nick is jobless for seven months and finds it hard to give them their “creature comforts.”

This is a hint for Joy to plan an escape and makes Jack feign death so that Nick will take him, wrapped in a carpet, in his truck. It seems too easy but gives Jack his first look at the real world, coming one-third into the movie. But there are legal and rehabilitation hassles and a case against the arrested Nick. Joy’s mother (Joan Allen) is supportive of Jack but not her father (William H Macy), possibly nursing a grudge against the mother for taking a new husband (Tom McCamus).

Dealing with a complicated plot like this is no easy matter but director Lenny Abrahamson goes about his task meticulously, even cerebrally. Long pauses add to the suspense and the story unfurls at a lazy pace giving the viewer enough time for the drama to sink in. Little wonder that both (Best Picture and Best Director) have been nominated for the Oscars.

He is aided by impeccable performances from the mother and son as they go through a whole gamut of emotions. Brie Larson gets a nomination but little Jacob Tremblay misses out. The others are incidental. Like ‘Danish Girl’ and ‘Joy’, ‘Room’ also lives up to expectations. So don’t miss it.

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