By Kellen Rikhoff
11 x 11
Director Lenny Abrahamson creates a world with four walls that is narrated by a five-year old boy, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), shows the complexities and questions that come with growing up. Surprisingly and impressively, he is able to do all of this primarily through Jack’s narration, one location, and one special moment when Jack breaks free of his captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) in Room.
The movie opens with Jack’s Ma (Brie Larson) telling him about how she was alone in the room until he “zoomed down from heaven” to save her. This is just the first of the effective examples of Jack’s world being so sheltered. The film continues to illustrate through different ways how Ma is protecting her son from the mysteriously evil world they inhabit.
Additionally, Jack’s limited awareness and naïve perception makes him the perfect narrator for illuminating the struggles and questions that arise as he matures. Abrahamson forces the audience to perceive this universal struggle through this young boy. When Ma tells Jack that he has zoomed down from heaven, she is referring to a small window in the ceiling. This view of the sky is the only thing that Jack can see of the outside world. The sky is unmistakably a symbol for the unknown of the larger world, but it is also a symbol of hope.
Tremblay is truly remarkable in his role, instilling his character with charisma, acumen, and bravery. Jack lives in a world where the items that we commonly know as tools or decorations are considered friends. Since Jack has no social contact besides his “friends,” Old Nick, and Ma, the littlest things in his life mean a tremendous amount to him. Thus, he and Ma mean absolutely everything to each other. Their relationship is crucial to their existence, which is really the most captivating part of the entire film. Viewers are torn as well, feeling agony for the son because his interpretation of reality is so warped while the mom is just trying to protect him, knowing her life will most likely end in her dying.
As the film continues, Old Nick is being forced to move. Ma quickly concludes that he will most likely kill her and Jack, so she plans an escape for her son. Over the course of just a few days, she tries to teach him all that he needs to know about how to escape the room along with the mysteries of the outside world. As Old Nick’s departure is looming, Abrahamson perfectly builds the tension as Ma and Jack prepare for the escape.
Jack’s planned escape is the most powerful, suspenseful, and memorable scene of the of the film. To see a similar viewpoint, read David Edelstein’s review on Vulture.