Monday, March 28, 2016

I was supposed to be happy.

A couple of years back, I was walking my dog, Dodger, and not all that far from my house...we encountered a woman. Have you ever seen someone coming toward you, and just known, like for certain, they have something to say to you? Well, my spider-sense was certainly tingling, and as this possibly seventy-year-old woman addressed me, I knew something wasn't right.

Do you know where North York is? Is this the road to North York?

Look, I really wasn't sure what the f--k direction either of us were walking in, but I was pretty sure, either way, she wasn't headed in the right one. As we stood there, uncomfortably close, ol' Dodger (though he was Young Dodger back then) started to get antsy. Whether he wanted to keep on keeping on, or continue his familiar sniff-pee ultimate combo, I started to worry somebody was going to get upset (or bitten). Quickly, I apologized, and yanked my dog away from this old woman.

And as I walked away, instantly I knew I'd f--ked up. I should have helped her (even though, no lie, I imagined taking her into my house and she absolutely goes Reverse Underwater Spider and screams and crawls up the walls backwards). I turned to call to her, and yeah, you guessed it...

...she was totally f--king gone. 

At first glance, the soul-crushing film Room, from director Lenny Abrahamson, has little do with my pointless anecdote, outside of one very intense moment. While I'd rather not spoil it for you, for the thirty seconds I could actually function as a person during this film, it was all I could think about. That was, of course, when I wasn't holding back an endless stream of guttural sobs.

Winning an Oscar for the role, Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman confined to a very small room... somewhere. Always at an arms-length away is her son Jack, masterfully realized by the tiny force of Jacob Tremblay. Together they are utterly alone, with a tiny skylight hinting at the season, and bad TV hinting at everything else. It's just about the worst situation imaginable, but Ma and Jack are making the best of it.

That is until Old Nick shows up, a night-time visitor to Room interested in only one thing: having sex with Ma. Apparently he provides for our downtrodden pair, but just enough to keep them alive. He blames layoffs at work, but it's all too apparent that Old Nick ain't right in the head. In fact, this whole situation is beyond f--ked up, and after five years of it, Ma decides it's time to get the Hell out of there. Her plan is fairly straightforward, but entirely awful.

Without the slightest semblance of hyberbole, Ma, after five years of living like this, is going to risk absolutely everything she has. And while her life may not have been on the line, I sure as shit thought that mine was. The moment her master plan started, fully coincided with my heart stopping.

Yeah, it might only be because it's fresh in my head, but let me be clear: few films have devastated me like this one did. My wife and I hadn't seen a movie together in weeks, and where I thought this one might keep her awake and be worth talking about, we could hardly look at each other the whole time it played. In fact, I don't think we said a single word during Room's two-hour runtime, outside of that sound you make when the lump in your throat forces you to take a deep breath (or yawn) simply so you don't stop breathing. And neither of us could sleep afterward...and that's some kind of f--king record, trust me.

Who you shouldn't, ever, are the Yays and Boos. They're going to spoil the Hell out this one in a minute, so if you haven't been stabbed in the heart with a rusty knife seen Room yet, best keep it moving. And if you have seen, can I get a hug? Please?

Even the happy scenes are so terribly bittersweet, you know?
  • Top to bottom the performances are astounding in this film. If they took DiCaprio's Oscar away and gave it to the kid, I would have zero problem with it. Let him hunt me down in the snow.
  • Good morning, everything!
  • As I recall, no one ever sang me to sleep, but if the opportunity ever presents itself, sign me up for one of Ma's lullaby numbers. Such an angelic way to end another day in Hell.
  • Thank God for that skylight. What a small thing to appreciate more than any one thing in Room (though sadly, TV was pretty clutch, too, I suppose)
  • Ah, so that's why there's no lid on their toilet. Makes sense.
  • Nothing but the tooth. Seems kind of obvious looking back, but I totally forgot about it. But again, Rational Thought checked out pretty early for me with this one. Staying in his place? Inconsolable Desperation.
  • Outside of our mains, obviously, there are four characters I loved more than people that acutally exist.  Number 1? Officer Parker! Brilliant work, officer. Glad you got the job done, despite Tom not shutting the f--k up. Number 2? Kid with the ball. Typically kids are either too great or too miserable in movies, but this little neighbor person was totally just a regular kid. Potentially bored, likely curious and altogether kind, I was psyched to see Jack get to hang with a friend for the first time in his life. But Number 3? Well, it took me a scene or two to come around...but let's put our hands together for...
  • Leo! Man, this guy was a surprising rock in the incessant turmoil Ma, Jack and everyone else was mired in. He probably could have been weirded out by everything, but instead stepped up and kept it all together. And not only was Leo the best thing ever....
  • But what about Seamus? Never have I nearly totally lost my f--king shit over the presence of an entirely average dog. Like, I love dags as much as anyone, but seeing Seamus through the eyes of Jacob I felt like I was looking at an absolute miracle of nature. Saddens me/lifts me up just thinking about it (a week later, no less).
  • And finally, in about as tense a scene as I have laid my already bloodshot eyes upon, Jack's escape was the cinematic equivalent of being kissed on the mouth and stabbed at the heart by someone you care deeply about. It was so good, so incredibly exciting...and so f--king awful at the same time. Which brings to me Number 4 of characters I loved too much: Dog-walking Guy. While there was a chance this person could have kept it moving, they instead stepped in and stepped up. Good on them.
I am Jack's broken heart.
  • If you're gonna have a birthday, you gotta have candles. Well, according to a super-pissed little kid, anyway.
  • Tooth problems. While I still consider CastAway to take the gold when it comes to cinematic dental-related awfulness, Ma's problems are pretty bad, too. If I too was ever cut off from society, the last thing I'd ever miss would be a trip to the dentist...until I needed it, I suppose.
  • Jump scares! Fine, there's only one, but it totally got me. Damn it, Ma. I get it, they're disgusting...but still. 
  • Old Nick is clearly the worst person alive, no doubt, but he even one ups being an utter piece of shit by buying the worst birthday present of all time. Only a true asshole buys something that sounds like that.
  • Look, Jack. Your bed totally sucks....I get it. But please, kiddo, please. Stay in it. For the love of God, stay in it. *shudder*
  • Ma's exit plans. I, as much as possible, understand her level of desperation, but for f--k's sake, those plans stressed me out. Especially the one that actually worked.
  • The press. They suck every way possible. Is this really how we get our information? Oh, right. It's probably worse.
  • I don't really remember much about At First Sight (but yeah, I saw it theatrically) other than the fact that when Val Kilmer's character finally got to see...his life fell apart. Here? It's kind of the same thing. When Jack and Ma finally get out, you kind of think/assume things are going to be okay. Spoiler alert: they're not. Damn, inconsiderate The Rest of the World. Always ruining everything...
  • So...Ma finally gets her son and herself out of the worst possibly life ever...and she does that? I was f--king furious. Sure, there's a tiny little part of me that gets it, but you know what the rest of me says to that little part: F--k you. You got a kid, f--ker.  Get it the f--k together.
  • And finally, the fact that this awful, awful story isn't entirely fictitious. I don't even know what to say, really. Just...f--k. F--k everything.
So, quickly, let me finish my story. The lady disappears and I continue on walking Dodger, thinking about her the whole time. What if that was my (possibly lost?) grandmother? What would I have wanted someone who came across her to do? And as I rounded the last turn, bag of dog poop in hand, and headed back to my house, of course...there she was. 

Sitting in the road. 
Blood streaming down her face. 
With a crowd of people around her. 
And an ambulance on the way.

She was okay, ultimately, but I never forgave myself for not helping her out. Room shows us that we should always help, consequences be damned.

Unless there's a dog involved...


  1. Room was incredible and I agree with everything here. The escape was so goddamn tense I couldn't even breath. The first part is so awful and then the aftermath is so devastating. There's really hardly a bright spot in the whole damn movie. See, your point about helping totally applies in that situation or when the guy who helps Jack - however, Ma was also trying to help Old Nick and that's why it's so easy to be wary of helping strangers. The part where she yells at her mom about being nice really broke my heart (and every other scene and line of dialogue).

    1. Absolutely incredible. Whatever bright spots there may be, instantly come crashing back to the bleakest of realities. It's a tough watch, but almost beautifully devastating (though no shit, I never want to watch it again...ever).

      It only dawned on me at the very end of the post that helping people is what got Ma in trouble in the first place. For me, there's such a weird fear that comes along with helping a's almost crippling. I should have helped that lady...but bringing her into my home (where we had a newborn?)...freaks me out a little bit.

      Probably because I watch too many damn movies.

    2. It's understandable. I feel like the only way to help anyone is to keep your distance, make sure you're in public, and just call 911. Especially as a woman, I would just never, ever be able to trust a man asking me to come near him for any reason! I'm so paranoid about that sort of thing! I've read way too many stories about serial killers and kidnappers.

    3. All true, from where I'm sitting. I wanted to help that lady, but there was a weird fear of what would happen if things went south. Yeah, I could have taken her down, unless she got that weird demon strength, but bringing any variable into your home could open a rather large can of worms. But maybe I'm just a huge wuss (totally likely).

      Yeah, f--k guys who need help. Sorry, pal. You're on your own.

  2. Ugh. I thought I'd recovered from watching Room, and then you brought it all back to the surface. I'm right there with you on that particular scene you don't want to spoil. In fact I held my breath for so long without knowing that I got dizzy. Love this review, man!
    - Allie

    1. Allie! Sorry to bring you back, but I'm with you, my feelings for many of the situations are still very close to surface as well. Obviously it speaks to the quality of the movie (and especially the performances), but like you're suggesting, it's not something I really want to experience again. I was joking on Twitter...sort of...when I suggested who the Hell would buy THIS movie?

      Like, this is something you want to revisit? How many knives can your heart hold?

  3. I estimate that I cried for about an hour of this two hour movie. I liked it better than the book, both were good, but the film moved me to tears. You're right about her plans stressing me out. I cried happy tears when it actually worked. lol

    Great review!

    1. Hahaha! I'm probably about 15 minutes over your estimation. Maybe twenty. Okay, f--k it. I bawled the entire time.

      Even happiness (the plan working) suffocated tears out of me, dammit. It was as exhausting a movie as I can recall. Two hours of trying not to weep like a two-year old can take a lot out of you, you know?

      (I was in perpetual Dawson cry-face mode)

  4. So...when I saw Room a few weeks ago I was shaken...but I wasn't overly affected. I watched this again last night and I don't think I stopped sobbing from scene one till the end. Larson...TREMBLAY!!! UGH! And complete YES on your final BOO...because that is what makes this so much more 'devastating'...this could very well be a true story.

    It is a true story...except Ma and Jack didn't escape.

    So, my kids are never leaving my house. Ever.

    1. Okay, the best thing about this message? Watching Room makes you want to keep your kids in the house FOREVER!!! Hahaha...and I TOTALLY agree with you?

      Unless you were being...ironical.

      Anyway...I was a wreck, basically from jump street. Even the happy stuff destroyed me.

      Oh, and I can't believe you watched this...again. That's hardcore, man.

  5. I was a mess during this movie especially when they brought the dog...speaking of dogs I am never gonna help a guy looking for his if I'm on my own so I'm not sure if that movie taught me to help others

    1. Yep, Seamus' appearance, as happy as it was, DEVASTATED me emotionally. I did the worst job ever of 'holding it together'.

      Hahaha. Yeah, I was so overcome with my love for Dog Walking Guy, I totally forgot about how MA got into this mess to begin with. Rookie move, I know. But...while I totally support you (and Jess) saying you're not helping some guy...I should have helped that old lady. More than just awkward shrugging anyway (though that's totally my go-to move)...

  6. So glad you watched and reviewed this film (and I hope that doesn't come across as sadistic). I read the book a year or so before the movie was released. The first half of the book takes readers through the great escape, and LORD, I was so wired on adrenaline I didn't think I'd sleep, like... ever again.

    And the film... Brie Larson was amazing, but Oh. My. God. That kid! Halfway through my husband was in tears, saying "F**K Leonardo DiCaprio, THIS KID should've won the Oscar."

    1. I honestly don't think I can handle the book. Even if it's half as intense, it'll likely stop my heart from functioning.

      I was right there with your husband. Verbatim. Not to mention bawling my eyes out, too. Ugh.