How do you shoot a story from the viewpoint of a five year old who has never stepped foot out of his 11 x 11 foot garden shed and has only ever known his Ma? You cast Jacob Tremblay. Little Tremblay (Jack) and his co-star Brie Larson (Ma) did an amazing job of bringing Emma Donoghue’s Room to life on the big screen.
While Donoghue’s book tells the sad, hopeful, fictional story of a young girl kidnapped and repeatedly raped for years before she manages to escape, the true message of the story is about the claustrophobic love between a parent and a child. Though, the real-life story of Elisabeth Fritzl’s escape from a similar, yet much more horrific, situation in 2008 served as a starting point for Room, Donoghue told Globe and Mail that she wasn’t trying to cash in on Fritzl’s trauma.
“I saw [Room] as a child’s story and as a coming of age story. It’s just an unusual situation,” Donoghue said in her interview.
After reading the book and seeing the movie, one would be hard pressed to continue claims that Donoghue was exploiting the Fritzl incident. Both mediums sensitively handle the issues of captivity and rape. The book focuses on showing both “Room” and the outside world from Jack’s point of view, giving readers a unique look at a normally terrifying situation. It’s interesting how Jack doesn’t see “Room” as a bad thing, and almost misses it once he’s been freed. It’s Tremblay and Larson, however, who really bring forth the story’s true message. If it weren’t for their drab surroundings, you almost could have believed they were actually mother and son living in a normal situation. In fact, with the way Larson loses her temper and quickly tries to apologize with hugs and kisses, viewers can almost forget that Larson and Tremblay aren’t actually related.
Both of the actors took home awards for their roles as Ma and Jack, but the real prize was the friendship that ensued. While the two no longer see each other on a daily basis, they have been keeping in touch through Instagram. Movie-goers will want to keep an eye out for these two—especially young Tremblay—as they continue to grow as actors, but for right now, they should pick up the DVD of Room, while book enthusiasts should grab a copy of the novel. And definitely be sure to flip your preferences and partake of this story in the alternate format because this tale’s too good to only hear once.
Book Rating: 9/10
Movie Rating: 9/10
Featured photo courtesy of Element Pictures