We goblins are co-reviewing the new drama Room, not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau’s superior The Room.
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay play a mother and son being held in a room by a man they call Old Nick, played by the unfortunately typecast Sean Bridgers – who also kept someone in his shed in horror movie The Woman, which actually handles the subject with far greater sensitivity.
The first half of the film, set within the room, is a shamelessly exploitative re-enactment of real-life tragedy that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Yes, it’s a work of fiction, but they didn’t have to set it in Austria and call the man Jo for you to get the picture.
With several high-profile cases of this exact sort in recent years, we’re left wondering what there is to gain in re-enacting it? It’s not like a film that deals with the holocaust or slavery, which can help our understanding of historical events – something that clearly has value.
It exists to feed people’s morbid curiosity while masquerading as serious drama. You can imagine Hollywood execs seeing these cases on the news before calculating how long they have to wait, and how much they have to change, before they can cash in on their profits – not to mention awards.
Emma Donoghue’s film of her novel not only exploits but also romanticises real-life tragedy. Couched in Oscar-baiting drama, the filmmakers’ motives are transparent. And then they have the cheek to cack-handedly critique the media’s exploitation of such a tragedy, when they are guilty of exactly that.
The ineptly paced drama reaches its (technically) emotional peak halfway through, once they leave the room – this is all in the trailer. The second half of the film, following their escape (in the most horribly thought-through plan since Jack Palance in Tango & Cash), becomes a mishandled family melodrama.
With nothing to say to each other after seven years, the newly reunited family turn on each other. Characters being obnoxious and excessively impatient is a sign of a drama that doesn’t know what to do, and these people behave like characters in Lars von Trier’s nihilistic Melancholia.
Watching Room is like being locked in a room with Piers Morgan. Even if you can stomach its content, the film is packaged like a made-for-TV true-crime drama. Between Stephen Rennicks’ drab piano-and-strings score and Lenny Abrahamson’s dull direction, you can’t move for sickly production values.
With the exception of its two lead performances, this movie has nothing to recommend it. The poster features words like “uplifting” and “life-affirming”, which seems critically irresponsible. So be warned: this film is thoroughly depressing throughout. Martyrs is genuinely more uplifting.
Morally bankrupt and cheaply executed, Room is just an issue of Take a Break magazine soaked in nasty perfume.