Room is the story about a woman named Joy and her son Jack. When Joy was 17, she was abducted by a man only known as Old Nick. He imprisoned her in a small shed in his backyard, with the outside world only visible by skylight. Joy has been imprisoned in this shed for seven years, and her son Jack is the result of Old Nick raping her.
Room is told mostly from Jack’s point of view. The story opens with his 5th birthday. He explains in voice overs his belief, as he was told by his mother, that “room,” as the shed is referred to in the story, is all that exists. He understands the world outside the skylight to be outer space, and everything he sees on the TV isn’t real. When Old Nick comes at night to rape Joy, Jack sleeps in the closet (apparently Old Nick never layed eyes on Jack). Jack’s understanding is that Old Nick uses magic to bring food and other supplies to the outside world.
Circumstances reach a point where Joy concludes they must escape soon. She struggles to reveal to her son the truth of the situation, as he doesn’t fully understand it, is confused, and doesn’t believe his mother at first.
I suppose if you wanted to you could nitpick at how they were able to escape, but for the sake of the narration they had to escape somehow, and the overall situation is so tense I feel you can look over it.
While Room has a consistent overwhelming tension in the first act, that tension is not absent from the rest of the movie. Joy sets forth a plan for Jack to escape and get help, but he has trouble communicating the situation to the first adults he meets. Thankfully the police are able to deduce what happened and his mother is shortly freed. Old Nick’s final fate is revealed in a passing line of dialogue on television, allowing the remainder of the movie to focus on Joy and Jack’s adjustment to the outside.
Jack has a few more voice overs explaining the wonders of the world he is in. He is very observant about things like time, musing how the world is so big there is only so much time for everything, which is why people are always in a hurry. While most of the world is wondrous to him, he still misses the only home he knew in his life. Occasionally he asks when he’ll go back to “room”.
Joy has her own issues fitting back into the world, wondering if she’d been a good enough mother for Jack, and issues with her parents. While she’d been abducted her parents separated and her mother re-married. From Joy’s point of view, her mother seemed to be having a good life without her. There’s also a great line about how women are socialized. During an argument with her mother Joy wonders aloud that maybe if she hadn’t been raised to be so nice she wouldn’t have helped some stranger with his sick dog. Presumably this is how Old Nick was able to trick/abduct her.
Room is the hardest movie I ever had to watch, but is without question the best movie that came out last year.