Media - Film - Room (2015)


 Daily Dialogue — October 29, 2016 | by Scott Myers | Go Into The Story

I came to watch Room (2015) through the lens of looking for areas of comorbidity, as it was recommended to me that way, however most of what was shown on the screen seemed, to me at least, as more or less complex PTSD. PTSD that is portrayed very, very well. 

As a brief summary, Joy Newsome is the mother of 5 year old Jack, who lives with her, confined to a tiny shed by their captor (and Jake's father) Old Nick. Old Nick maintains a mythic presence in Jack's life, as he sees him as the bringer of gifts and treats, being too young to realize the situation at hand. Joy helps Jack escape and grab the attention of the authorities, leading to Joy's own rescue. Joy and Jack come to live with Joy's mother and stepfather. Her own father, happy to see her, is unable to bear the existence of his grandson and chooses not to be in their lives. The danger of Old Nick, now past, weighs heavily on Joy as she finds it difficult to resume the life she had at 17 years old. Meanwhile, Jack is adjusting readily to the outside world. Joy attempts suicide after giving an interview to a local news station where she is asked why she didn't try to get Jack out of "room" earlier. The shame that she feels about her dependence on Jack to keep her going inside has overtaken her, and this combined with, arguably, the most common comorbidity, depression, leads to her swallowing pills. 

The soundscape, in particular plays exceptionally well throughout the piece, as elements of trauma, both as it is happening and after the fact, are illuminated by the audio direction. The layering of the different sounds give us a good idea of the loudness of the new outside world, yet also keep the audience still always a little bit in the headspace of "room." We hear bits and pieces - snippets of audio from back in the room, that return in varying degrees of subtlety.

Additionally, although its hard to say if Jack has PTSD, he does appear to have sensory overload issues when he first leaves Room. Everything is so big, so expansive, that he asks multiple times when he can go back to Room, which he still considers his familiar home space. Eventually, this question leads both him and Joy back to room, which has been stripped down to the studs. Jack goes back inside, and wanders through the space, confused as to why it seems so much smaller. Even he recognizes that this space was a broken pandora's box - seemingly limitless until the lid on their enclosure was ripped off. 

While the film was a really solid interpretation of trauma, and showed a few interesting takes on how to portray realistic trauma and PTSD, it did not seem to me like it did much that was very interesting between the form and function. While literal flashbacks were kept to a minimum, it felt as though it may have pulled back into too subtle a form - afraid to take risks that might alienate a non-traumatized audience member. In particular, the suicide attempt fell off for me as too expected, too Hollywood for a film about realism. While Suicide is a massive issue facing those with PTSD, the way Joy returns after an unknown stint in a facility, seemingly cured by her son's haircut, felt somewhat trivializing. It created an easy solution to a complex problem, and never said anything more about it. While Brie Larson's portrayal of Jude may have indeed been Oscar worthy, the film did not quite do justice to its content.


Popular Posts