- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 03 February 2016
- Written by TAYLORE GLYNN | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Room is a film of about captivity in many more ways than one. Based on Emma Donohue’s 2010 novel, the story follows Joy, a kidnapped young woman, and her five-year-old son Jack before and after they escape from the 11-by-11 room in which Jack has spent his entire life. The isolation of Joy, known more prominently by Jack and the audience as “Ma,” is both physical and mental: kept in a miniscule garden shed for seven years and having mothered the child of her kidnapper, Ma is left to find solace within her own mind, even after she returns home. The most impressive and rewarding case of escaping captivity, however, is that of Brie Larson and the industry attention she’s now owed.
This is not to say Larson has had an unsuccessful career—far from it. Starting from her childhood, Larson has attached herself to a number of successful television shows and films that only increase in acclaim: the much-loved series United States of Tara, the impressive indie-romance The Spectacular Now, and the critically acclaimed Short Term 12. And while the last role mentioned is considered to be her “break-out” by industry media, Room is the project that has thrust her into the narrow eye of the public.
Rather than exploiting the horrific details of Ma’s isolation and repeated sexual abuse, the film and its screenplay (a terrific adaption written by the novel’s author) force the audience to witness her turmoil on a more rewarding and weighty emotional platform through moments between mother and son. These moments are where Larson’s quiet mastery is at its best: Ma’s quick anger when Jack fails to connect with Legos, her subtle triumph when he grasps the difference between TV and real life, and her acute frustration when he won’t eat his birthday cake. And while her character spends much of the film battling fear and depression, Larson shows Ma’s inner strength and complexity rather than allowing the heavy subject matter to create a broken victim.
It seems that this mastery is not lost on anyone: audiences have raved, as have critics. However, it is the rapidly-growing pile of small statuettes that is causing both industry and public buzz; Larson has dominated this year’s awards season. After taking the top prize at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards (among others), it seems that this first-time Academy Award nominee is headed straight for the biggest win of all, in a category including veteran heavyweights Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett.
Many are comparing this stellar rise in attention to that of Jennifer Lawrence: after her nomination for indie-darling Winter’s Bone, Lawrence experienced unheard of acceleration into the seldom-accessed territory of megastardom and universal public approval. Much like Lawrence, Larson has demonstrated the kind of authentic, incredible likeability that has taken others their entire careers to cultivate; to close her Golden Globes acceptance speech, Larson vowed to write thank you notes to anyone she forgot to mention on stage. However, her already substantial pre-Room career suggests a longevity that could outlive that of Lawrence’s, and then some. It could even be said that Larson’s most recent performance reflects more emotional range and deftness than Lawrence has exhibited in any of her Oscar-winning roles, as well as any of this dramatic magnitude this year.
To add to this already worthy list of roles, her turn as Ma has not only opened doors for an unlimited amount of opportunities, but has removed them from the hinges. Since the release of Room, she has already been confirmed as signed-on to another buzzed-about literary adaption, The Glass Castle, as well as Kong: Skull Island, which is currently filming.
Prior to their escape, Ma tells her son he’s going to love it. When he asks, “Love what?” Ma leans in close and tells him with conviction: “The world.”
Brie Larson, the world is going to love you.
IMAGE TAKEN from eonline.com
IMAGE TAKEN from hollywoodreporter.com