Jason Tremblay secures his stardom

Room does have a room – a choking 11×11 space from which a mother and her young son cannot escape. But as much as the movie concocts and presents this trap for the purposes of a thriller, Room primarily concerns itself with inescapable victim hood.

Brie Larson landed an Oscar for her role as Joy, but it’s the thematically powerful Jack (Jason Tremblay) who captures Room’s grueling reality. As an actor, Tremblay skips from a TV special about Christmas ferrets (!) to this, where he is emotionally pulled and manipulated in an attempt to calm his ceaseless curiosity. His character’s cognitive ability is stunted for his own sake.

Jack has no existence. He believes outside is space. People on TV are being projected from other planets. Dogs are not real. Grass is something he has never felt. His mother guards him from a reality of sexual abuse and their circumstances. As a 10-year old actor (playing five), Tremblay is surrounded by grisly conditions. Few scenes can be considered comfortable.

Room’s visual cocoon and suffocating cinematography carries a rare weight which words cannot do so definitively.

Room comes from the novel by Emma Donoghue (she handles the screenplay, too) which in turn carries the implications of real world cases like Cleveland’s Ariel Castro. Like other great novels-turned-movies, Room will exist in popular media primarily as a film – like The Shining, albeit without the same mass market, box office appeal. Room’s visual cocoon and suffocating cinematography carries a rare weight which words cannot do so definitively. The material is bettered by visuals and the performances which propel the story. A slow, careful cinematic reveal lets the details gestate until time comes for Room to break out.

A masterwork of production design, Room conceals its reality in character-building artifacts. Makeshift art projects line the walls, a sign of bonding between a mother and her son as much as they are a distraction. Jack has drawn on shards of paper towels as paper is limited. There’s a developed world to this location, few square feet as it may be.

In the after effects, Room explores the morbid curiosity which follows – lawyers, gawking neighbors, and media. It’s about how families reject and react, but without any sensible means of dealing with such unfathomable trauma. Relationships tear, mental health deteriorates. And yet, perspective does not change – there is Jack staring on, simply trying to cope. His blank stares are debilitating.

As much as Room deals in the capacity of motherhood to shelter the young, underneath is Jack’s ability to adapt. Kids have their processes. They see, compress, and deal in a way adults no longer can. Room feels authentic, researched, and psychologically pure. Room’s only fault is being connected in-name-only to a derided cult classic where confusion could stunt its audience. This is a new classic. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Movie]

Room Blu-ray screen shot 7

Red’s Epic captures the digital images, clean and without fault. Shadows are dense, important given their overwhelming impact on the movie’s first half. Light sources are few. Despite the dark corners and potential for low light noise, technology wins out. Room’s shots are free of digital debris.

Impressively, fidelity maintains a pure posture. It’s crucial – Brie Larson must appear worn and without make-up. Those visible details are intact even with the room’s single lamp shining in a corner. Once locations begin to change, contrast bulks up. Brightness inhabits the image, and in a brilliant move, is initially oversaturated with sunlight. This effect diminishes with time, a narrative-assisting cue.

Post production exists to dampen the images with blues. While the burst of contrast will elevate the muted palette, there are no shifts away from the overcast-like color. Mood remains oppressive and effective. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray keeps all of this intact with fine bitrates and pleasing clarity. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Expect little from the surrounds in this DTS-HD track. Exterior activity is made directional by stretching the stereos wide. Most ambiance does the same. TVs can be heard coming from the side of the frame, as will other people outside the doorway.

When the rear speakers do engage, it’s to accentuate crowds or suburban surroundings. Like the visual space, here’s another story-bound helper, creating wider spaces to better place these characters in different situations. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

While the commentary may be missing author Emma Donoghue (and that’s a shame), the four people featured have plenty to say. Director Lenny Abrahamson, cinematographer Danny Cohen, editor Nathan Nugent, and production designer Ethan Tobman speak on how unique of a shoot Room was.

Three featurettes make up the rest, beginning with Making Room, speaking broadly about adapting the novel and some technical hurdles. Donoghue is a fixture in this piece. 11×11 focuses on the set itself, from creation to shooting in the confined space. This is followed by Recreating Room, bringing in the design team to recreate the set for a promotional stunt. However, their discussion in just four minutes proves enlightening. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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