Catching up on some 2016 UK film releases, Lee checked out Lenny Abrahamson’s Room.
There will never be another film like Room.
There just can’t be. We shouldn’t allow it; we’ve arguably finished much of this line of thought. Thanks to Lenny Abrahamson, and more importantly Emma Donoghue for her book and accompanying script, this insight into a terrible phenomenon should now feel complete to many viewers. We not only got the right script for this film, we also got the right direction to accompany it; the right cinematography, the right cast, the right music, the right pacing, the right lighting, etc, etc, etc. They’ve got it right, now let’s watch it, learn from it and shrivel our hearts once more to never again require it.
These are the broader strokes of a captor story, and that suits the medium of film fine. We could have more internal processes, more rationale or lack thereof from our lead mother and son and that would be fine for a book, and would warrant reading, but a film simply needs to tease us with the right imagery and pauses to let us fill the gaps ourselves, and here we’re given exactly that time to breathe and understand.
Through this surreal and extraordinary circumstance, we manage to squeeze in the realities and hardships of parenting, broken families, rape and many of its terrible outcomes, expectations for adulthood, privilege and how we hold that against our children, simple enduring connection and how to establish it; there’s just so much to read, and so much for these characters to contemplate and endure and yet the story never feels wrong to go to these places. It feels natural to discuss the pressures we put on each other and how they would be amplified in a tale of separation; what Joy experiences and endures is wholly separate and individual to her story, but we see parallels to stories of family returning from jail, or from war, or from a business trip or an affair. The eggshells we step on trying to help one another, and our patience for adjustment is universal, and were it not Room would be a cruel movie with little to say.
Instead, we have a human story of human suffering, made to give us a handbook of caution when faced with similar scenarios, to help us try and tackle these awful turn of events in as best a way we can. But also, we must realise that we can’t fix what has been done and, more often than not, there will be more damage yet to come; this is an unfair world and we can only be so prepared. If there’s one clear thing though: if there’s a potential for their inclusion, absolutely exclude the media. That one’s easy.
Incredible performances, a delicate but optimistic soundtrack and a story that focuses less on the tragedy and more on the people involved, it deserves our attention and our praise. A single viewing will likely be enough, but don’t let that diminish the need for at least one viewing.