October 16, 2016

Room is an inventive drama, exploring in a very professionally artistic fashion the horrors of something worse than slavery and entrapment, but something that can only be described as a living hell; of a young woman taken captive and forced to live in a shed for more than seven years with no contact with the outside world. Elegantly, the film does not let the audience catch on to what exactly this “room” is; it is best then to have discovered this film with no preconception of its plotline for it created, at least initially, an eerie science fiction feeling to the nature of “Ma”s existence with her little boy. Very soon, however, it is rudely recognized that this is a story inspired by the demonic reality of certain hideous individuals who take pleasure in slowly murdering a person’s life, not over hours or days or even weeks, but years.

The film, if it wanted, could have been much more horrific; it could have with a rawness depicted the ugliness that a human being is possible of possessing. In a certain sense, it is fortunate then that we only see such hideousness during wartime, not during waves of placidness that somehow reveal the evil human beings are capable of possessing. And yet then for what reason does a Cleveland neighborhood possess such evil?

We can somewhat empathize with those who sell their souls for power and wealth. That is conceivably logical to the bystander, who could not find happiness with such a dedicated obsessive path toward what is permanently fleeting. But here, what could incite someone to take more than a hostage, but a cruel plaything, and live with it? The film only inspires learning about these real-life stories of unusual cruelty and reading consistently of the suicides of the captors once caught. Truly, their lives were meaningless; not to say that capturing and raping and tormenting young women gave their lives meaning, but it conceivably is a distraction from the boredom of life that is only awoken when individuals with too much leisure time and no spiritual quality live to their heart’s desire. Of course, this would be a Christian indictment then; that truly, man is inherently corrupt and left to his own devices will reveal such atrocity.

Or this is the dark underbelly of a liberal society. That when a man has the freedom to give his life any value he pleases, when those are incapable of imbuing it with such power, they are only possessed with a perverse twist of sexual entertainment. One must wonder if a ubiquitous acceptance of sex work would nullify such unfathomably bleak impulses from every being conceived. It would relieve the symptom but not the affliction of nihilism.

Then there is the spectacle, the sheer drama, of the recovery of the girl now a young woman and her illegitimate child that her father cannot even accept. What makes this such great film is its candidness with reality; that the next phase in the life-cycle of a tormented and abused woman is makeup and questions of her piousness in not thinking about the freedom of her child more than the child’s life in keeping her alive. And the trauma of the child having to comprehend a world which he didn’t think conceivable; while we never see the little boy in agony of having to change his worldview (and disappointingly so as even children cry when they learn there is no Santa Claus), we do see him struggle; the film then is ultimately more about his innocent growth and incomprehension of the ordeal he actually experienced. He is truly an emblem of treating what life gives in an optimistic light.


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