Oscars nominations: A not terrible 4 (Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Brie Larson, Best Director for Lenny Abrahamson and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Synopsis: Based on the Novel by Emma Donoghue (who is nominated here for also writing the screenplay), a young woman is locked in a room by her captor. In it, she births a son Jack, whom she protects from the man who has imprisoned her. However, inspired by her love for her child, she must attempt to escape her cell with him to return to the outside world. While this might seem more like the plot of a Silence of the Lamb-style horror, the film focuses on the child’s perspective, therefor it has a more philosophical bent, as well as being a beautiful drama about the love between a mother and her child.
How many Oscars is it going to win: I have to say this is a film as good as the best film last year, Mad Max: Fury Road. It is a problem of choosing between two films of completely different genres, but both exemplary in their own ways. Room, despite being more conventional Oscar material, will not win the Best Picture award as it does not tick as many boxes as The Revenant (period setting, out-of-this-world cinematography, grandiose production). However, it will win the Best Actress award for Brie Larson, who gives an extremely compelling and believable performance of a strong woman in dire circumstances. Larson also has a string of good films behind her (Trainwreck, The Spectacular Now, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and has picked up most other acting awards. Room has a good chance of winning the screenplay award, proving that authors can be often the best adapters of their own novels. Lenny Abrahamson did a wonderful job bringing the book to life so thoroughly, but he is fighting against much bigger names with more clout and won’t win the directing honor.
Will you enjoy this contender: When I have recommended this film to others, they complained to me that it sounded terribly grim. While the subject matter can be very difficult to sensitive people, it can still be described as enjoyable primarily for several reasons. The first reason is the way the mother deals with being a parent in such extreme circumstances is actually inspiring. This is a film about survival (like The Martian and The Revenant) and watching people, energized by love, fight. In a way, it does leave a warm fuzzy feeling. Secondly, for the lovers of philosophy, this film is incredibly rich; there are obvious echoes of Plato’s Cave and the Mary’s Room knowledge argument that in a sense allows the viewer to have an epistemological conversation with the film. What would the world be like to a person who has never seen it? What kind of mental construction of the world would they develop if their interaction was limited to one other person and a television screen? I find these questions fascinating, and to me the film gives the filosofo all the joy of a decent thought experiment. Furthermore, the drama itself is built up so expertly, it is impossible not to get emotionally involved with the film. Pity, suspense, sympathy, empathy, uplift are all present within the structure of this touching film.
Room is showing this weekend in SM cinemas in Cebu, February 19-21, 2016.