I saw a movie years ago called Kiss the Girls, about a serial killer who kept women hidden in underground rooms. The notion terrified me. It was a fictional story based on a James Patterson book, but the idea of being trapped like that seemed too horrible to ever be true. Then I started hearing REAL stories of women who were held captive for extended periods of time with startling regularity. It made me wonder just how many women are being held against their will at any given time and if there was ever anything I could do to help them.
Author Emma Donoghue has had those same thoughts since hearing the story of Elisabeth Fritzl in Austria. She was locked away by her own father for 24 years, and even had 7 children by him while trapped behind that locked door. Elisabeth Fritzl is the woman who inspired Donoghue to write the best-selling book and screenplay for Room.
It tells the story of a young woman who is kidnapped and held captive by a man who eventually impregnates her. She and her son attempt to escape not long after his 5th birthday, but they find that life outside the Room can be almost as challenging as inside.
Yes, Ma and little Jack escape. I’m not giving anything away because even the trailer makes this clear. KNOWING that they escape doesn’t make the first half of Room any easier to sit through. I squirmed, covered my eyes and blurted out “RUN,” in those agonizing moments, even though I also knew they got out.
Escape is not what Room is about though, just as it isn’t about captivity or the captor. Room is about Mother and Child and the sacrifices BOTH make for the other. It is about love in its purist form, which is why a movie about kidnapping and rape is, oddly enough, beautiful and life affirming.
I imagine many people will hear what Room is about and immediately scratch it off their “Must See” list. Don’t do that. Room IS a difficult 2 hours but it also showcases 2 of the best performances this year. Brie Larson is an inspiration as “Ma” and I’m flat out bewildered by Jacob Tremblay, who plays “Jack.” Tremblay was only 7 when he made this movie, but the depth of emotion and honesty he displays is staggering. I can tell IMMEDIATELY when my children are lying about brushing their teeth, but I bought every second of Jacob’s performance, and he’s YEARS younger than my kids!
I understand that you might not want to see Room, given the subject matter. Believe me, I felt the exact same way. I promise you it’s worth every agonizing second though, and that’s why I’m giving Room an A+.