Sunday, February 07, 2016

Room, a serious movie directed by a precocious director based on a dark and virtuoso story by an accomplished novelist

This is a troublesome film to write about. I will be offending friends with whom I saw the movie and when we came out we had agreed that it was a good movie despite its sombre subject. There was light and hope in the film and that seemed to be a great compensation compared to the claustrophobic tale. I was under the impression that this was a Dostoevskian tale but with a North American silver lining. It also seemed to reflect an underlying fact that the Western society is profoundly sick even if one cananot generalise from the soul/mind sickness of a key protagonist in the narrative, who remains marginal to the story but who is quite the hinge of the story. But here is a hinge that in a way unhinges others, including the viewers of the movie. But these generalisations would be a little far fetched once we come to know about the 2010 novel, which has made it to the short list of Man Booker Prize. The right thing would be to read the book to be able to make sense of the movie, and it is plain cheating to read the book-reviews to know a bit about what is happening in the movie. We are told by the reviewers of The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times that the book's narrator is the five-year-old Jack, and we get to know everything about the world in the novel as well as about the people of this world through the child-narrator. So, if certain things remain unclear -- as to why the man/husband/father behaved in the way he did -- it is because, it is implied, the child-narrator is not into that kind of adult background. The book has been praised because it is seen as a difficult act to poll off -- telling the story just through a child-narrator.
This literary invention would not be a surprise if we go back and read about Emma Donoghue, daughter of literary critic and academic Denis Donoghue, has obtained her honours degree from University College in Dublin in English and French, and she got her doctorate in English from the University of Cambridge. Almost all of the fiction she has written has won critical acclaim.She is 46.
Director of movie, Lenny Abrahamson, has got double degree in physics and philosophy from Trinity in Dublin. IMDB says that he studied at Stanford University while pursuing his interest in films. Wikipedia says that he registered as a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University but he did not complete it, but returned to Ireland to make films. He is 49.
The film is brilliant in terms of visuals and screenplay brilliant. It is terse, even philosophical and unintentionally psychoanalytic in terms of the room/womb analogy, a metaphor which has suggested itself to the reviewers of the book. There is a certain thrill in the child discovering the world, and where he has to learn to distinguish between TV world and real world, TV people versus real people, TV homes versus real homes and so on. There is the parallel track of the traumatised mother, her troubled relationship with her mother and father, and the mysterious villain/husband/father, who is something of a wimp in terms of his vague and meaningless villainy. But as the book-reviewers have noted that you cannot get to know the problem with the villain/husband/father because the narrative is that of the child, and he does not look into the causes that shape the character of the people.
So, where does Room the movie leave the viewer? It leaves the viewer with a sense of satisfaction of having seen a serious, absorbing and good film. But it would not be right to over-interpret the film because Emma Donoghue has placed the restricted the book and the movie to the worldview of the child.
Is the performance of Brie Larson as the mother of the child in the movie, which has been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar award, impressive? The viewer is uncertain because he/she is caught up with the overly condensed film to notice her histrionics.

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