Room movie poster

A cowardly movie about brave people. Part one is heartrendingly human, bordering on wise: a considered portrait of motherly love under extreme duress. To wit: Ma (Brie Larson) is both captive and sexual slave to a dim Midwestern monster, trapped in a soundproofed shed with a son (Jacob Tremblay) who has never seen the world outside. (Well, except on TV.) Wonderfully and believably, she gives the boy a life, an education, a cosmology, and a family; what is more, she manages to shield him from the horror of her own situation. It's only when the boy's innocence is threatened that she resolves to set him free. (Spoilers, of a sort, to follow.) Free him she does, and that's when the film loses its nerve, transforming from an unflinching look at love amid suffering into an embarrassing bout of wishful thinking. It makes sense for Ma to fall apart once the ordeal is over. But it does not make sense — psychologically, developmentally, but above all, narratively — for an anger-prone child whose entire, largely happy world has been ripped asunder to magically become both moppet and angel of salvation. #DiscoverYourFantasy. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank). 2015.

Matthew Lickona

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