Room is a craft close to my heart. It ‘s so suffocating yet so liberating.
With exceptional direction and mind-blowing writing, it haunts you for the longest time possible. It has the power to suffocate you even when you have enough oxygen around.
Room reinstates the fact that freedom is a gift that we take for granted. For some, it fortunately comes for free but for others, they have to pay a heavy price for it.
What is Room all about?
The film opens in a tiny room with no windows other than the skylight or a door to step out of choice for people trapped in it. Who’s in? A young woman with her 5-year old son. Why isn’t she or her son stepping out of that tiny room? Because she was abducted 7 years ago by Old Nick and her son is the outcome of the rape. The story takes a turn for the better when Joy finally decides to make an attempt to escape. Why did she think of that after so many years? Because Old Nick tells her that he has lost his job and cannot afford to look after them for long which means, both Joy and her son, Jack will be left in the room to die. The challenge here is that the only way out of the room is through Jack and Jack, being born and lived only in the room, is clueless about the outside world. For him, the room and his Mother is the only world that exists.
Giving luck and life a chance, Joy plans an escape. She tells Old Nick that Jack has died as he was sick and did not get proper medical care. She then wraps her son in the carpet and hands him over to the man to bury him. Jack manages to escape. The police are then informed. Not just do they save Jack but also rescue Joy.
What Happens Next?
What happens next is a perfect example of “emotionally deep” writing and direction.
Once rescued, both Joy and Jack struggle to fit in the real world. Though Joy reunites with her family, she struggles to adjust to the world that has changed and moved on without her. She finds it difficult to digest the fact that her parents are now separated and that her Mother has a new partner, Leo.
On the other hand, Jack is fighting with his fears. He doesn’t talk to anyone else other than his Mother, Joy. Everything around him seems to disturb him – a slightly loud noise, human voices, light, toys – everything. And then he also has another challenge to face – share his mother with her family. Not just her family but also the demons she had locked deep within herself. Once among the loved ones, she let them free which gives birth to depression, frustration, insecurities, anger, and other powerful negative emotions. While Jack keeps running to his mother to feel safe (as he knows no other way of living), she wants him to adjust to this new, huge world as soon as possible. Fighting with her own demons, she also starts to get distant from Jack, knowing that he is now in safe hands.
Unable to adjust to the new world and a new version of his Mother who was his only respite, he longs to go back to the Room. As the events unfold, Joy attempts suicide adding another traumatic event to Jack’s life.
Why Watch Room?
Room warms your heart while making it bleed. That’s a rare experience to deliver as a film.
It’s not just a story about an abducted young girl and her son. It’s a life-lesson.
While Joy represents a trauma victim, Jack becomes an example of how to deal with trauma and heal from it. Whenever life throws unpleasant surprises at you unexpectedly, look at it the way a child would look at it. And then stepping out of it will become easier.
There is no doubt that what Joy goes through in the movie does irreparable damage to her. Her trauma cannot be compared to Jack’s life as for him, it was all about adjusting to a bigger world. Whereas for Joy, her bigger world was snatched away from her, her life was constricted to a tiny room that had affected her emotional and mental health. It is very difficult to come back to your world and find that your world no longer exists. But if it boils down to this, Jack has been through the same. After the duo was rescued, his world no longer existed. Yet he adjusted.
The formative years is when a child’s mind develops, that is when he is shaped. That basic right was taken away from him for no fault of his. Still, when his mother asked him to go out into the world that didn’t even exist, he bravely faced it. He did everything in his power to get out of the room, to leave his world behind so that his mother could go back to hers.
The way Jack deals with the trauma is also something we could learn a lot from. When Jack gets out in the world looking for help, you will see him shut himself entirely from the people around him. He couldn’t bear any kind of sound – people talking, car door opening and shutting, the touch, the light, the breeze – absolutely nothing. He keeps looking for his mother all the while. Once life starts getting back to normal, he starts missing the room.
The reason is simple. Before he escaped, he thought that the room was the world. As things get uncomfortable outside, he craves room the most as that was his comfort zone. As nothing was as it should be, everything was the way he wanted it to. He was comfortable there. Just like all of us. We find our comfort zones and then settle down there. Even if it breaks us emotionally, mentally, and physically, we deny moving out. We fear what must be waiting for us outside which is why we don’t even try out new ways. We reject a bigger, better world for a room in our minds that has become our happy place.
Here’s a twist: When Joy returns home from the hospital, she reunites with her son. That is when Jack wishes to revisit the room. Joy, though hesitant at first, agrees later. While in the free world, Jack keeps longing for the room, he thinks that it has shrunk after finally visiting it. That is when both you and Jack know that he has outgrown the room. That finally he has closed the door on his past. The room that was once his world is now just a room, now that his world has finally gotten bigger. That is when you know that he has healed, that he doesn’t long to go back to that tiny room again. And that is when you feel emotionally free.
And then you know he has also healed his Mom by bringing her back to Room to make her bid a final goodbye to her trauma and finally lead a free life as the door to the world has, at last, opened.
Where to Watch? Netflix