Jack’s favorite person is his mother. In fact, she is the only person he has ever known. Jack’s whole world is Room. He is also very fond of Lamp, Plant, Rug, TV, and Sink (among other objects) to whom he says good morning every day. Then there’s “Old Nick,” but Jack isn’t sure if he is completely real. He comes only at night when Jack is sleeping on the bed inside the wardrobe.
Jack is five years old. He plays and exercises with his mom (Joy,) who does everything she can to keep him active and with a somewhat balanced diet. He watches TV and is learning to read. The boy is trying to make sense of the world just like anyone else his age. But his idea of the world is very much obstructed by the limited space he has inhabited from the moment he was born, and by the stories his mother chooses to tell him about the world in order to protect him. In Jack’s own words “There’s Room, then outer space with all the TV planets. Then heaven. Plant is real but not trees. Spider is real…but squirrels and dogs are just TV. Except Lucky, he is my dog who might come someday.” But after their kidnapper tells Joy that he lost his job and he starts cutting down their supplies, including their heat, she decides she must get Jack out at any cost. She is afraid of what would happen to her and her son if Nick can no longer provide for them. She decides to start telling him about the outside world, a concept difficult for Jack to grasp, and she starts plotting his escape.
Brie Larson’s (Joy) moving performance won her the Academy Award for best actress. But Jacob Trembley (Jack,) who was not nominated for an Academy Award, gives a performance just as breathtaking as Larson’s. But what makes the film remarkable, apart from its brilliant performances, is the focus of the story. It isn’t simply about the kidnapping of Joy, and it isn’t about “Old Nick” at all. It is about Jack and the ways in which we interact with spaces. For the time the movie lasts, you are seeing the world as Jack does. You are experiencing his isolation and his love for his mom. You are experiencing his love for the world, whatever that means for him in each period of his life. Jack will go through sad moments, and he will go through a confusing but joyous journey of discovering that there are two sides to every wall, and that there are many “insides” and “outsides.” Though Jack likes the new world he discovers, he misses Room tremendously. And even when this might appear to be a bit disturbing, it speaks of the inevitable feeling of nostalgia all children feel for the places where they grew for a while. After all, five years is a very long time for a child. And for Jack, it was his entire life.
Watch this movie and be moved by Jack’s inevitable quest to define life and define places. Be moved by the loving story of a mother and a son.