Lenny Abrahamson, an Irish independent filmmaker, explores in the newly released film ‘Room’ a humanistic portrayal of the real life story based on Emma Donoghes prize-shortlisted novel.
The film closely portrays the life of a mother and her son, held captive in an 11-by-11 soundproof garden shed, and documents the microscopic moments of the world in which they live within the room. The dramas ability to depict a sense of intimacy, as well as suspense, reflects the way in which the metaphor of time and the end of childhood impact on the dynamic of a mother and sons relationship.
Emma Donoghue’s novel ‘Room’ was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize regional prize. The success of the novel, particularly its ability to depict sensitively a true story, may have contributed in the result of a larger interest cinematically. Many elements of the captivity which appear unprecedented in the novel and which remain the central concept of the film are its telescopic examination of the way in which the mother and son’s survival lies in the sanctuary of one another. This valuable message of a parent-child relation utilises the symbolic motif of the ‘room’, and the mother and son’s freedom from the room, as a reflection of the eventual progress of the child’s autonomy from his mother in growing older.
This may present the film as a vehicle in discussing childhood and parenting, as well as the way in which interdependency of the mother and child may be understood within the influence of both a physical and psychological space. The depiction of the room as a microscopic space of intimacy, rather than what conventionally appears to be a space of punishment, may have the ability to explore a new dimension to the story. The room may have the ability to also signify a mother’s desires in freedom for her son, yet with the sacrifice which may risk their separation.
Danny Cohen’s cinematography may be considered a successful depiction of characters’ sense of claustrophobia throughout, creating an immediate inescapability of the enclosed space, combining widescreen close-ups which may add to the viewers’ sense of spatial confinement. Likewise, the lens of muted colours contribute to the inside world of the room emitted of all vibrancy of the outside world. The film may also seek to directly place the viewer amongst the characters of “Jack” and “Ma” through the intimacy of sound, and space in order to highlight the intimacy of their every waking moment in performing the normality of cooking, exercising and reading in the world of the room.
The heightened sense of duration spent in captivity may appear within the film similar to the novel’s sense of impending continuity, and may relate to the director’s focus on the concept of time passing; with a desire to highlight the sheer repetition of their everyday life.
However, the narrative’s ability to offer the distinctive perspective of the child, whom the novel focuses on, may be considered the unique and cinematic quality the film represents. The film may have seemed to transfer the novel’s interior monologue of Jack into the cinematic translation of the 5-year-old protagonist’s sequences of self-narration within the film. This may offer a new dimension to the story, offering an ulterior perspective to the captivity which insights a sense of innocence and adventure. Stylistically it may heighten a sense of psychological captivity also which presents a sense of interiority to the experience of the mother and son.
The distinct quality of the film, may lie in its ability to translate a sensitive real life event cinematically, introducing what may be considered a unique concept for audiences who may yet to be aware of the Emma Donoghue’s story. This may present a new level of exposure, seeing a larger public interest in similar stories regarding life after captivity, as well as offering a multi-dimensional exploration of the post-affects of life in a room.
Likewise, the film ‘Room’ may also have the ability to open a discussion surrounding motherhood and childhood in a unique way due to the intricate subject matter.
How might the film ‘Room’ challenge viewers to understand a new dimension of motherhood?