Bama Art House, You Brought Me Room and I Thank You For It.

By Dana Murray

The Bama Art House Film Series has become a great love of mine. From foreign films to documentaries and Oscar hopefuls, its diverse schedule of indie gems breathes life into my Tuesday nights. Last week’s documentary All Things Must Pass painted a portrait of the infamous Tower Records, allowing the viewer a close look at the spirit of the people behind it along with the intricacies of its rise and fall. Although wonderful and truly engaging, my mind still hadn’t fully recovered from the week before, from the power of Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, a compelling drama based on Emma Donoghue’s brilliant novel (titled Room as well).

After finding out it would be playing in the series, I researched the film. Not having read or even heard of the book (yes, I called it brilliant anyway), I was immediately intrigued by its premise: a mother raising her son in captivity, their escape, and the subsequent struggle of adapting to the world. Aside from the storyline, the name Brie Larson caught my attention as well. I had seen her as a supporting actress in various films such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street, and most recently Trainwreck, but none of these were the reason I was ecstatic upon finding out she held Room’s leading role. It was Short Term 12, a 2013 film I’d stumbled upon a year or so ago, that was fostering this feeling of excitement. Larson was the star of Short Term 12, and she had captivated me beyond belief, giving a raw and powerful performance as a staff member of facility for at-risk teens. The movie, which received critical acclaim and garnered a number of awards and nominations, instantly became a favorite of mine. Larson’s talent assured me it wasn’t the last I’d seen of her, and the opportunity to witness more of her work was something to look forward to.

That opportunity came with Room. She, along with the rest of the cast and the story itself, compelled me in an extraordinary way. The intensity of her character Ma’s situation gave Larson the chance to showcase a level of unparalleled emotion. And she ran with it. Larson channels Ma through grace, subtlety, and nuance, displaying every emotion with a great intensity that comes not from forced depiction but from organic portrayal. Ma, her relationship with her son Jack, and their dependence on each other to persevere in the most brutal of circumstances illustrates the matchless love between mother and child. Jack, played incredibly by Jacob Tremblay, reminds you of the beauty of innocence, the strength of children, and the powerful insights that come from them. Ma is an astounding force, giving her son the best life she can within four small walls despite her own struggle as a victim of the kidnapping that put her there. But Jack saves Ma as much as she saves him, and they remain each other’s heroes long after their escape, the acclimation to reality becoming a struggle all its own. Room left me with tears in my eyes, the beauty of love, the trials of survival, and the wonderment of childhood lingering in my mind as I left the Bama Theatre and remaining there still as I returned the next week.

To be moved that much by a movie and a performance is rare, so the recognition this film and its cast have received is well deserved and of no surprise to me. Some highlights of this recognition are as follows:

Room has received four Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress).

Brie Larson has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and the Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Actress. She is currently nominated for British Academy of Film and Television Award and Screen Actors Guild award as well.

Jacob Tremblay won a Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Young Performer.