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Lenny Abrahamson
Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Writing Credits:
Emma Donoghue

A kidnapped mother and son make a daring escape, and experience a dramatic homecoming provoking a look into the power of imagination and the unstoppable force of a mother's love.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 3/1/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Lenny Abrahamson, Cinematographer Danny Cohen, Editor Nathan Nugent and Production Designer Ethan Tobman
• “Making Room” Featurette
• “11X11”” Featurette
• “Recreating Room” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Room (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 13, 2016)

Given that she enjoyed reasonably prominent roles in hit movies like Trainwreck and 21 Jump Street, no one can claim that Brie Larson remained an unknown prior to her starring role in 2015’s Room. However, because she won the Best Actress Oscar for her work, Room clearly will change her career forever.

Room introduces us to Joy Newsome (Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack. They seem to lead a pretty ordinary life, albeit one in which they live in a small, squalid environment and seem to have little money.

Eventually we learn that Joy was kidnapped a man they refer to as “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers) seven years earlier. He keeps them captive and uses Joy as his sex slave within the 11 by 11 room in which Joy and Jack exist.

Born into this room, Jack has never known anything outside of its walls, but Joy does her best to make his life rich and fulfilling. However, Joy does lie to him about their situation, as she tells Jack that “Room” accounts for the entire world and nothing exists outside of it.

Joy steadfastly keeps Jack from Old Nick, but when the two meet, she freaks out and attacks her captor. This inspires retribution from Old Nick, so he cuts off the power to Room for a period.

Even though the power eventually returns, Joy decides she can no longer tolerate this limited, dependent existence. She devises a plan to allow them to escape, one that forces Jack to be the agent of their salvation.

Part of me feels like the last part offers a spoiler, but since the movie’s publicity materials reveal that Joy and Jack escape from Room, I think it’s fair game. Besides, less than half of the movie keeps the characters in Room, so this leaves plenty of space for additional narrative development.

Which Room does in a reasonably good manner, though I think the film’s first half works best. It becomes fascinating to see the odd little life Joy conjures for her child, and the sequence in which Jack escapes becomes surprisingly nerve-racking. We know that Joy’s plot will succeed, but as presented, the scenes prompt a lot of anxiety.

Some of that occurs because we buy into Joy and Jack to such a strong degree. Room walks a fine line, largely because it comes from Jack’s point of view. This could easily turn cutesy, and at times, it threatens to collapse under the weight of its pretensions.

But it doesn’t, and the choice to make Room Jack’s story succeeds better than I would’ve imagined. If seen through Joy’s eyes, the movie becomes depressing and tragic, but Jack’s tale makes more colors and shades available. He creates a unique character whose journey takes us down a lot of interesting paths, especially when this ultra-sheltered child sees the enormity of the real world.

I admit I view child actors with a jaundiced eye – we get so many young performers who mug and ham for the camera that I always anticipate the worst from them. Happily, Tremblay exceeds expectations and delivers a simply outstanding performance. He gets a character who needs to go through a variety of situations and emotions and he does so with realism and vitality. I have no idea if he’ll make much of this opportunity – remember Justin Henry? Probably not - but he really does well here.

As Joy, Larson gets the more thankless part, but she also brings a lot to the table. Joy doesn’t get quite the same emotional range and tends to have to focus more on negative feelings, but Larson offers a good take on the part. She feels real and embodies the severely damaged young mother nicely.

If forced to criticize Room, I’d point out that it loses steam during its third act. While we still see some interesting material, the first two-thirds of the tale include its most compelling moments. The final portion can’t compete with what precedes it.

Still, that’s a grudging complaint, as I think Room packs too much of a punch for its middling third act to harm it. With an intriguing story, compelling characters and strong acting, the movie becomes a winner.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Room appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed fine. Interiors could be a little soft, though, and since those dominate the film, delineation wasn’t as crisp as one might expect, but the image still looked acceptably concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Colors tended toward a bland teal, especially in the many interiors. Matters brightened a bit as the film progressed, though the film remained semi-monochromatic, with more of an amber emphasis in later shots. The colors seemed appropriately rendered. Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows showed good clarity. The transfer represented the film in a satisfactory manner.

One wouldn’t expect a slambang DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack from a movie like Room, but the mix managed to open up matters in a moderate way. Virtually all of the audio remained environmental, and the mix used the speakers to immerse us in the characters’ settings. The track came to life best when our leads left Room, but even in that limited location, some decent side/rear material emerged.

Audio quality appeared fine. Music was full and dynamic, while effects appeared accurate and tight. Dialogue remained natural and concise. While not a demo reel, the soundtrack fared better than I expected.

When we go to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Lenny Abrahamson, cinematographer Danny Cohen, editor Nathan Nugent and production designer Ethan Tobman. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, music, set design and props, locations, lighting and camerawork, editing, story/characters and related subjects.

The participants combine to give us a positive summary. For the most part, they stick with more technical filmmaking areas, and they do so in a satisfying manner. We get a solid examination of various decisions and challenges connected to the film.

Three featurettes follow. Making Room runs 12 minutes, three seconds and offers notes from Abrahamson, producer Ed Guiney, writer Emma Donoghue, and actors Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, and Joan Allen. The piece looks at the source and its adaptation for the screen, story/character areas, cast and performances. With a fairly short running time, the program offers little depth, but it gives us a smattering of good insights.

11X11 lasts nine minutes, six seconds and features Larson, Abrahamson, Cohen, Tobman, and Donoghue. As implied by the title, “11” looks at the design and execution of the titular Room. We know some of this from the commentary, but the show offers a nice overview.

Finally, we go to the four-minute, 23-second Recreating Room. It presents Abrahamson and Tobman. The filmmakers shipped and rebuilt the main set outside a theater; we see that and learn a little more about Room. This acts as a decent companion to “11X11”.

The disc opens with ads for Mississippi Grind, The End of the Tour, Remember, The Spectacular Now and Amy. No trailer for Room appears here.

Creative and involving, Room depicts a tale of an unusual maternal bond. It captures its subject well and becomes an emotional journey. The Blu-ray provides mostly good picture and audio along with a few informative supplements. Room delivers a solid drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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