By Heinrich Domingo
Room speaks ill of the darkness of human capacity. It warns the viewers on how sweet and beautiful creatures can be ruined by monsters dressed as people. With only metaphors and imagery, the film successfully tells the unspeakable. It does not need sex, blood, or violence to narrate a story that is too hurtful to watch. With an outstanding cast, it pierces the audience into the soul and leaves a cinema experience they would never forget.
Made prisoner in a dingy small room, Joy (played by Brie Larson) was continuously abused and later on impregnated by her captive. The presence of her son (played by Jacob Tremblay) helped her survive the physical and mental challenges inflicted upon her. Together, they created a escape plan. But more than the difficulty to get out of the room is the struggle to enter the bigger real world already unknown to them. Room describes the sickeningly sweet smell of freedom when one has never tasted any. It narrates the difficult transition of leaving a suffocating space and finding an overwhelmingly big one.
The movie’s screenplay allowed a presentation of hatred and violence without necessarily showing it. The emotional gravity of the story is sufficiently portrayed by the excellent acting of the two main cast. Fear inflicted by the abductor is in the boy’s eyes. Rage towards the rapist crackled in the mother’s shaking voice. Relief that they are, at last, free emanated in their warm hugs. This film becomes a proof of the adage, “showing less is showing more.”
From the beginning, the director intends to present the film as a drama story and not as a thriller or crime. To do this, Larson and Tremblay are tasked to provide a performance which can capture the hearts of the viewers. As both did, the end result is a film that provides empathy to victims of abuse. Instead of filling the screen with gory images, it focused on the deeper aspect of sexual assault – the effect on one’s psyche.
Yet, Room is not appealing because of its eccentric story. It is outstanding for its beautiful screenplay and brilliant cast. It brings the audience together with the characters in an eternal healing process. It does not pretend that the world is kind again after detaining one sex predator. Rather, it reminds the audience that the cramped room where the mother and son stayed in is not at all different from the wicked outside world waiting for them. Despite coming out of that prison room, Joy and her son are still detained in her father’s condemnation, media’s judgment, and justice’s failure.
This film takes pride in speaking about the unspeakable. It sensitively brings the taboo topics of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence into the cinema without unfairly condemning the abused ones and their families. With this feat, Room earns a wide spot in the moviegoers’ hearts.