Room (2015) Review

Room (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Based on Room by Emma Donoghue

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy

Plot Synopsis:
I’m not putting a synopsis in this time. I, like most everyone who has seen this movie, knew exactly what it was about before going to it. My hubby didn’t know a thing, though, and I think it helped – he thought it was fantastic. If you somehow still know nothing about this movie, keep it that way before watching it. My review will be as spoiler-free as possible.

My Opinion:

This film has finally come out in the UK (along with all the other big Oscar nominees) so, therefore, I’ll be considering it a 2016 movie when I do my year-end lists in December. Then half the bloggers will go “that’s a 2015 movie!”. So annoying. 😉 I know I’ll be having to address comments like that once again, though, because I know already that Room will still easily be in my 2016 Top Ten by the end of December. It’s so good.

As I said when I didn’t include a plot synopsis, I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible but this won’t be an easy film to discuss without giving any idea what it’s about (the pictures will be a clue as well but I won’t include many). It’s one I’d highly recommend to any fellow movie bloggers who still haven’t seen it as it’s the exact sort of movie that us (often misunderstood!) cinephiles can truly appreciate. It doesn’t assume its audience isn’t smart enough to fill in some of the blanks and it leaves just enough not fully explained and/or explored, leaving the audience to think about the movie afterwards and to wonder how they may behave in similar circumstances (as crazy as it may seem, it is a real thing that happens).

This movie may also be a “drama” but it’s not one that plays up to that fact. There are no over-the-top melodramatic moments that feel fake or contrived, which is something that drives me nuts about a lot of films. The characters feel like very real people who happen to be in a situation that most of us can, luckily, not even begin to imagine. I know this was a book but it’s one that I wasn’t at all aware of until now. After the film, I looked it up to make sure it’s up for best adapted screenplay (which it is – I was happy to see that). That’s when I noticed that the novel’s author also wrote the screenplay. Well, she did a fantastic job so I now really want to check out the book as well. I think a novel’s author should also write the screenplay more often if this is the kind of result.

I think one sign of a really good film is how much it gets people talking about it afterwards. My husband & I discussed it for a pretty long time. We go to quite a lot of movies but, most of the time, we have very little to say. Well, we’re big movie fans so we perhaps don’t really count anyway – we discuss movies more than the casual cinema-goers. But a lot of the time I’ll come out of a movie and, if people are even discussing the film at all, they never say much more than “that was good” or “that was bad”. This time there was a woman who clearly wanted to discuss it with everyone who walked by. I thought it was quite cool to see that for a change! She asked people if they’d just seen Room and said how fantastic the kid was and that she’d not felt anything like that for a kid in a movie since Kramer Vs Kramer and The Champ (oh, yes! a Ricky Schroder mention in 2016! made my day!!). As we left, I saw that she’d gone over to discuss the movie with those working in the cinema. It was just great to see such public enthusiasm for a film that so genuinely deserves a lot of praise.

Onto the acting (as mentioned by the lady at the cinema)… The performances in Room are superb – not only from Brie Larson (who very much deserves that Oscar nomination) but especially from the young Jacob Tremblay. Wow. The cinema lady is partly right – it’s up there with Ricky Schroder’s tearfest in The Champ in a way. However, it’s a much more understated & more “mature” performance than Schroder’s. It does make me wonder how you get such an outstanding performance from a kid so young. I assume some of the credit must also go to the director? So I’m very glad that he’s also up for the best director Oscar. It’s great when small films such as this one do get some recognition: It’s nominated for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay. Excellent! But I’m not stupid – I don’t think it’ll get anything other than, most probably, Best Actress (I really wish Tremblay was up for Best Actor too, though – the Academy so rarely likes to nominate kids. What a shame).

The little films like this never win much, though. But hopefully the big nominations will at least get this film watched by people who otherwise may have never even heard of it. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and should be seen. Room is only in its second week of release in the UK and I’ve only just managed to catch it (on a tiny screen where my local cinema shoves all the indie films that no one wants to watch, which means it’s unlikely to be showing anymore beyond this week). Why don’t people go to movies like Room? It makes me sad in a way, which is why I enjoyed hearing that woman talking so excitedly about it after seeing it. This is the kind of film that I want to experience more often. Yes, it’s a difficult subject matter but it’s handled respectfully and the film is very well written with characters who are so believably portrayed. And Jacob Tremblay’s character may just make you want to look at life in a whole different light. Only the best movies can do that.

My Rating: 9/10

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Fargo (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Cara of Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for being a part of this project, Cara! (and Happy Blogiversary). 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Fargo, IMDB rank 127 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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I have a confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I’ll pause to let the many, horrified gasps die down…

Everybody good? Because yep. I said it.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of their allegedly best stuff (i.e. The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, etc.), but what I have seen has gotten a mostly “meh” reaction out of me—the one exception being O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which I find quite wonderful. But I wanted to watch Fargo because I was very curious about the FX series based on the film (and starring Martin Freeman, whom I adore). So when Miss Mutant’s list popped up and Fargo was a choice, I snatched it up. Was it a worthy choice? Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen

Starring:

Frances McDormand
William H. Macy
Steve Buscemi
Harve Presnell
Peter Stormare

Music by Carter Burwell

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot synopsis: (via IMDb)

Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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What I liked:

  • The accents. They. Crack. Me. Up. I don’t know what it is about Northern Midwest American accents, but I find them completely hilarious. I think it stems from my longtime love of the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous. Have you guys seen that? It’s wonderful. Or maybe only I think it’s wonderful. Whatever. Point is, the accents in Fargo are just as funny.
  • The actors. William H. Macy as bumbling, seemingly nice guy Jerry Lundegaard, Steve Buscemi as lusty, overly talkative henchman Carl Showalter, and Frances McDormand as clever, very pregnant police officer Marge Gunderson. It’s a bizarre cast of quirky characters, and they’re all fantastic.
  • Not only are many of the individual characters great, but the relationships are great, too. Marge and her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), have the most adorable marriage ever. Tough Marge goes to work to keep the town safe while easy-going Norm enters painting competitions. They have meals together—big meals since pregnant Marge is constantly hungry. They fall asleep watching TV. Then there’s Carl and his strong, silent partner, Gaear. Definitely not as cohesive a relationship (as anyone who has seen the end of this film knows), but they’re a pretty funny odd couple. There are a lot of opposites like these in the film, and it works well.
  • The setting. There are more snow-covered scenes than you could possibly think to count, and it gives the film a very unique vibe. This is a place dominated by winter for a good portion of the year, and it shows.
  • The fact that some of these things actually happened. Fargo makes a big show of proclaiming itself a “true story” during the opening scene, which is embellishing—the plot and the characters are completely imagined. However, some of the events are taken from real-life, reminding us what a bizarre world we live in…
  • The wood chipper scene. Gruesome and severely twisted, but…lol.

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What I didn’t like:

  • Aside from Marge, it seems like no one in this town has more than a brain cell apiece. I realize this is supposed to be for comedic effects—and there are several moments when it’s very funny—but c’mon…no one else is even remotely intelligent? It seems like there ought to be at least a couple more characters in there who aren’t brain-dead.
  • A person gets shot in the head, and it’s very “eww.”
  • There’s a very random, very bizarre scene involving a hotel room hook-up. It’s supposed to be funny, and I guess it kind of is, but part of me couldn’t help thinking, “Wait, what purpose does this scene have?” And dovetailing off of that…
  • At one point, Marge meets up with an old high school buddy, and things get downright awkward. Again, the scene is so random and unnecessary that I was a little confused about why it made it into the film in the first place. Stuff like this happens so often in Coen films. In fact, can we just all agree to start calling throw-in scenes like this a “Coen?”
  • The ending. Marge gives a great speech toward the end that I fully expected to be followed by the closing credits, but the film goes on a bit longer, making you think maybe it’s leading to something more…and then it ends. It’s a bit of a letdown. Coen films do that a lot, too, don’t they? Hmm. At this rate, we’re going to have to start calling a lot of things a “Coen.”

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Summary:

Despite my qualms, I did enjoy this film. It’s a quirky, funny crime film that is bursting with personality, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the performances are superb. Plus, the “true events” aspect of this film adds an interesting layer—even if the truth is super stretched. I still don’t like this one better than O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and I think I actually might prefer FX’s Fargo series to this, but I’d still say this film is worth a watch.

My Rating: 8/10 (Probably an A- or so on my rating system)

Thanks for letting me partake, Mutant! You’re the coolest!

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