Art, in any form, is made to evoke emotion from its audience. An artist wants their audience to connect with their piece of work. People get influenced with the message, whether they agree with what the artist has tried to project or not, and opinions are formed and emotions are sparked. Whether it be a painting, a song or a photograph, there is a message that is trying to be conveyed by the artist. Movies are another example of art, and with the award winning 2015 drama/thriller Room starring Jacob Tremblay and Oscar winner Brie Larson, it has managed to pave a way into people’s hearts and impact their lives. At least to me. The emotional and impactful film not only touches on the issues of abduction, the powerful bond of a mother and son, along with sacrifice, faith and perseverance, but it also explores the meaning of life and how the innocence of a child can bring out the beauty in it. The picture, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, forces the audience to reflect on their own life. It makes one begin to see the world as a wondrous, unique place as the child of Jack, played by Tremblay, does in the film.
The story’s plot is that of an abducted young woman, known to the audience as Ma, being held captive in a tight garden shed called Room along with her son Jack. Abductions and kidnappings occur many times, too often in any account, a particular true account being the inspiration for author Emma Donoghue. When Donoghue had first published the novel in 2010 she had received some backlash by the public branding her piece of work as a “money-making book to exploit the grief of victims,” as explained in an article from The Guardian by Sarah Crown. The victims in reference would be those involved in the Josef Fritzl case, a man who, in August of 1984, had locked his own daughter away for twenty-four years in his basement. He had raped her repeatedly, fathering her seven children and imprisoning three of them along with her. “To say Room is based on the Fritzl case is too strong . . . I’d say it was triggered by it. The newspaper reports of Felix Fritzl [Elizabeth’s son], aged five, emerging into a world he didn’t know about put the idea into my head. The notion of the wide-eyed child emerging into the world like a martian coming to Earth; it seized me,” Donoghue had stated on the matter. It is that theme, the innocence of a child, that drives the story whether in the novel or in the film. It is what persuades the audience to really think about their own life and how they perceive things to be. The story is shown through the eyes of Jack and narrated by his youthful thoughts. He gives life a new perspective, his innocence showing the magic of it all (“Emma Donoghue: ‘To Say Room is based on the Josef Fritzl case is too strong’”).
When the movie opens you hear the sound of someone breathing. Images of random objects in the scene are shown then it changes to a black background with tiny white letters scrawled on the screen, names of the production companies involved in the film. This happens close to a minute or two, then you hear the sweet, high pitched voice of a child ready to tell a story, ready to tell his story.
“Once upon a time, before I came, you cried and cried and watched TV all day until you were a zombie, but then I zoomed down from Heaven, through Skylight, into Room,” Jack then makes the noise of an explosion, managing to have a sad smile creep onto the lips of the audience. “ . . . [A]nd I was kicking you from the inside, BOOM BOOM, and then I shot out onto Rug with my eyes wide open and you cut the cord and said ‘Hello Jack’.”
Tender, wistful music accompanies Jack’s narration, adding to the innocent account of how he believes he came upon the Earth. The narration stops and then the boy sits up in bed, next to his mother, and whispers to her that he is now five years old. The scene then changes to him walking around the tight space saying good morning to the objects in the room, attending to each one with great care and importance. It is known to the audience, with help from his narration, that the names of each item aren’t just nouns, but in fact what they are called is in fact their name, personifying them. It is not “the rug” but “Rug” and the lamp standing on their nightstand is “Lamp”, not just any lamp, but possibly the only lamp in the world. Before watching a film one reads the synopsis, watches a trailer, learns of the storyline to see if it is of interest to them. Everyone sits down to begin Room, understanding the events that are going to happen, knowing the circumstances of the characters. It is an awful thing that happened to Ma and Jack, being held captive by a criminal. It already makes us sad and angry, it guarantees tears from those who cry at movies. But, then we actually meet Jack. We see that he does not understand that his mother had a life prior to the one that is known to him and he isn’t even aware of the trees and blue sky outside of Room. With the story being told through the eyes of this boy who had just turned five, it brings a more intensive kind of empathy from the audience. Great care and detail were involved with the construction of the script and direction of the movie. Each aspect of the film, with the narration and dialogue of the characters, adds to the pathos, ensuring an emotional response from the audience.
The events and journeys that Jack and Ma are apart of add to the many themes that are meant to be taken away from the film when the credits role in. Another theme that is displayed in the film is the theme of perseverance. After living in the shed for years, Ma seems to have accepted her fate, past attempts at escaping having failed, while Jack continues to believe their life is that of normalcy. However, Ma gains the strength and courage to show Jack the world and to finally leave their walls of captivity. It is so easy to give up, especially when past occurrences have only had negative results and it seems as if there is nothing one could possibly do. But, Ma finds a way to escape, holding onto the strength her child Jack continuously gave her day after day. With that said another major theme that flows within every scene is the unbreakable bond of family. Ma protects Jack against their kidnapper with ferocity, wanting him to be safe from harm. She gathers up the courage to try to escape again, wanting Jack to not celebrate any more birthdays within the confinements of Room.
Those who sit and watch the film are most likely not living half of the miseries that were brought upon Ma and her son. We all have struggles that we go through. I have struggles and I have my days of miseries, as do we all, but as I sat through the film I felt overwhelmingly ashamed. I felt ashamed for sometimes thinking I was living the worst life ever, going through the toughest of situations. I was appalled with myself, thinking back to when I cried over insignificant things such as relationships and boys. I started to realize that I didn’t live in the moment as much because there would always be a tomorrow and I always assumed I would be there to live it. I held back on things because I took them for granted. After watching Room I saw that life truly is beautiful, all forms of it. Even after finishing the film, I realized that that was one of the most beautiful movies I had ever seen. I started to appreciate the art of film more, I began watching more movies. I truly began to see all things differently and I am even to this day still trying to. It gets hard at times, we all have those moments of acting privileged, especially teenagers. If we don’t have the wifi password the world is coming to end, there is no reason to live anymore. If our phone dies in public we are immensely saddened, deciding death would be better than interacting with other humans. Nonetheless, we are allowed these moments of unnecessary thoughts. It happens, but it shouldn’t happen all the time. If you sit down and really think about it, life is a true wonder and beauty. Even rain, as normal as it is, can really be a wondrous thing. Everyone needs to be more appreciative of what they have because if Jack, with all he had gone through, could still smile, then there is no need for us to cry at the small, silly stuff.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in our daily lives and not stop to look around. In today’s society, life is focused and surrounded on things, objects. Technology consumes us, trends run our lives and simply living can be forgotten. The film Room was not just created to entertain us about the abduction of Ma and the escape of her and Jack; it was more than that. The film, with the help of Jack’s character, aides in having the audience reflect on who they are and how they see their surroundings. It is something we all should do. Not once in awhile, not here and there, but constantly. We should constantly be trying to see the good, the magic, the beauty that is hidden all around us. It is hidden, but it is there, and it isn’t all that hard to find.
Crown, Sarah. "Emma Donoghue: 'To say Room is based on the Josef Fritzl case is too strong'" The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Room. Dir. Lenny Abrahamson. Perf. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Elevation Pictures, 2015. DVD. Web.