Review: ‘Room’ tells a story filled with horror that somehow manages to be hopeful

2016-01-29-Room-movie-posterBy MARK VIOLA

Each January, once the Academy Award nominations are announced, I begin a quest to see every Best Picture nominee I hadn’t already seen by that point. It’s also around this time that I’m compiling my Top 10 for the previous year, so I’m already on the hunt for solid films to consider. Last year, I fell one short of completing my Best Picture quest, never getting the chance to see “Whiplash.”

When the nominees were announced this time, it turned out I had already seen seven of the eight Best Picture contenders, the lone exception being “Room,” from director Lenny Abrahamson (“Frank,” “What Richard Did”), which follows a young boy who has lived his entire life inside a single room with his mother, a young woman who was kidnapped as a teenager and held captive for years.

“Room” is possibly the least well known of the nominees, having only recently begun an slightly expanded release across the country after an initial opening in October. It only reached our area last weekend. With a lifetime gross of $8 million, is has earned about a third of the next highest grossing film on the list, “Brooklyn.” In comparison, five of the eight nominees have earned at least $50 million and three more than $100 million.

Despite its low profile, however, “Room” is a film well worth getting to know, and not just because one of its stars, Brie Larson (“United States of Tara”), is considered a front-runner for the Best Actress Oscar.

“Room” is a fascinating movie that is incredibly sobering while also managing to be surprisingly hopeful. While Larson has been rightfully getting her share of the praise, much of the film rests on the young shoulders of Jacob Tremblay (“My Mother’s Future Husband”), who not only gives an amazing performance, but one of the best I’ve seen from an actor as young as him.

This can be a difficult movie at times to sit through, but watching the journey its characters take is worth enduring those moments.

(This is a abbreviated version of the full review available in our printed or e-edition papers.)

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