×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Room’ Makes an Awards Case for 8-Year-Old Jacob Tremblay

Brie Larson excels as expected but the true revelation might be her young co-star.

TELLURIDE, Colo. — It seemed like everyone at the Galaxy theater here Friday night needed a drink following the world premiere of Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room.” Based on the bestseller by Emma Donoghue (who was also tapped to adapt), it tells the story of a woman held captive for seven years, five of them spent with the son she had courtesy of the lunatic imprisoning her as a sex slave.

Suffice it to say, the first half of the film — claustrophobic, icky, stomach-churning for its depiction of a young boy who knows nothing but the small space and the make-believe imagery of a television set — is difficult to watch. The film then shifts in another direction, becoming a story about mourning, parental responsibility and (profoundly so) closure. As Variety critic Justin Chang put it in his review, it’s a film that “finds perhaps the most extreme possible metaphor for how time, regret and the end of childhood can make unknowing captives of us all.”

Actress Brie Larson has drawn raves, and deservedly so. At just 25, she has shown remarkable maturity in her performances, giving beyond-her-years depth to characters in films such as “Rampart,” “Short Term 12” and “The Gambler.” That tendency goes a long way in “Room,” but the intriguing consideration is that, abducted at 17 years old, her character here is essentially trapped in that teen bubble of world relation. It’s a remarkable line to see her walk, and for A24 — the feisty indie distributor that has unflinchingly taken on such difficult sells as Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin” and Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” — it should be wonderful fodder for an awards pitch at year’s end.

The glue that holds the narrative together, though, and gives the story a foundation from which to really explore its existential ideas is 8-year-old Jacob Tremblay. Talking awards consideration for young actors can be tricky territory, the ultimate effect sometimes owed more to a canny filmmaker’s ability to draw the work out. And no doubt Abrahamason deserves a ton of credit, not only for getting this performance from the boy but for casting him in the first place. But Tremblay takes the character from a feral understanding of the outside world through a stage of slowly absorbing it. The impact, particularly seen through the eyes of his mother, is immense, and the arc of this character is incredibly profound as a result. Dare I say he should be part of any idle supporting actor chatter this season.

Oscar-wise, A24 has been close with this and that over the last few years. There was the laughed-off James Franco bid for “Spring Breakers” (I’ll speak up and say he still should have been nominated). There was the critically acclaimed adaptation “The Spectacular Now,” which provided further evidence of Miles Teller’s talent. There was Tom Hardy’s critics’ award-winning work in driver drama “Locke.” And there was J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year,” an across-the-board marvel with particularly high notices for Jessica Chastain. But nothing has come of any of it yet.

That could change with “Room,” if response from last night’s crowd was any indication. The woman in front of me began sobbing roughly 10 minutes into the picture and didn’t let up until the credits rolled. Indeed, it’s a very emotional journey. As the audience waited rather stone-faced looking out at a torrential downpour outside the theater, waiting for a moment to make a break for it, you could just sense that this was one they would be thinking about well into the night.

More Film

  • 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park' Added to

    'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park,' 'My Fair Lady' Added to National Film Registry

    “Brokeback Mountain,” “Jurassic Park,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Shining,” “Hud” and “Monterey Pop” are among the best known titles among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. A place on the list — always made up of 25 films — guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms [...]

  • Christian Bale'Vice' film premiere, Arrivals, Los

    Christian Bale Recalls Meeting Donald Trump: 'He Thought I Was Bruce Wayne'

    With Christian Bale’s latest film, “Vice,” a political dramedy, it’s inevitable ties will be drawn between the film and the current political administration and its chief, President Donald Trump. On the red carpet for the premiere of “Vice,” Bale, who stars as former Vice President Dick Cheney, shared that he met the current president while [...]

  • ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Bumblebee.” Ads placed for the sci-fi/action film had an estimated media value of $6.31 million through Sunday for 941 national [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Stunt

    Film News Roundup: Ryan Reynolds' Michael Bay Film '6 Underground' Wraps Production

    In today’s film news roundup, shooting has wrapped on Ryan Reynolds’ “6 Underground,” BAFTA LA names new board members, and the WGA East honors longtime exec Randall Jasta.  PRODUCTION Michael Bay’s Ryan Reynolds-starrer “6 Underground” has wrapped production. Related Film Review: 'Meeting Gorbachev' Telluride Film Review: 'Fistful of Dirt' Netflix and Skydance Media completed principal photography [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway'

    Hope you like the 69-year-old version of Bruce Springsteen’s face, because it’s virtually all you’re going to see for the two hours and 40 minutes of the filmed “Springsteen on Broadway” — other than the bare brick wall of the theater casting a dim glow in the background beyond those gray sideburns, and two songs’ [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Vice' Lead 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Nominees

    The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced their nominees for the 8th annual AACTA International Awards on Tuesday. “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” lead the pack, with five and four nominations respectively. The two leading films compete with “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Roma” for best film, while Nicole Kidman becomes the [...]

  • China's Government Orders Talent Home to

    After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

    China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content