Is ‘Room’ The Film As Good As ‘Room’ The Book?

Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel inspired by the Josef Fritzl case was loads of people's stand out book of the year. Now there's a film, but is it any good?

Is 'Room' The Film As Good As 'Room' The Book?

by Jess Commons |

In April, 2008, a woman named Elisabeth Fritzl became made headlines around the world after she emerged from the prison her father Josef had kept her in for the past 24 years. She was 42. She'd been held captive since she was 18.

During that time, Elisabeth had mothered seven children by Josef, three of whom stayed in captivity with her. It was only when the eldest, Kerstin, became critically ill and in need of hospital care, that the captivity ended. The youngest child Felix, was five.

Irish writer Emma Donoghue was struck by the case of Felix and, it was this that became the basis for her 2010 novel Room. Told from the perspective of a five year old boy held in captivity with his young mother, it became one of the year's most talked about books, being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize amongst others.

Now, the book's been turned into a film; just in time for Oscar season. And, as is the case with many much-loved books (check out the furor over setting the cinematic adaption of Paula Hawkin's The Girl On The Train in America rather than Britain) fans have been nervous about how faithful to the book the film will stay.

I bloody loved the book. I read it in about two sittings, ignoring my flatmates and my boyfriend until I'd read every last single word Emma wrote. So, heading into the film, I was sceptical. I'd been burned before by Revolutionary Road (not a fan - sorry!), The Great Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio again?), Kill Your Friends and a couple of the Harry Potter offerings. Turns out with* Room* though, there's no need to worry, at least IMHO.

For starters, the two main actors are flipping marvellous. Brie Larson (you'll remember her as Amy Schumer's sensible sister in Trainwreck) is excellent as 'Ma', the girl that's no older than you who's had to figure out how to protect her son from the horrors of his existence by creating routines and games to distract him and keep his upbringing as 'normal' as possible. When she gets frustrated, you feel her anger, when she despairs, you feel as bleak as your comfy cinema seat and comparably excellent existence will allow.

It's Jacob Tremblay who plays Jack though that's the most disconcerting to watch. IRL he's nine years old to Jack's five but with his big eyes and long girlish hair (you'll remember Ma hasn't ever cut it), he's every bit the innocent victim, blind to the very adult atrocities going on around him. There's been a few buzzes about Jacob being nominated for an Oscar for his performance -a win would make him the youngest person ever to recieve the award.

In fact, the film (the script was written by Emma too), allows those that have read the book to visualise the setting with fresh horror. Imagining a prison such as Emma described in the book in no way readies you for the reality of the structure, just a few feet across in each direction. Likewise, actually seeing the security the two main characters are kept under rids you of all notions that, had you been in the same position, you would have been able to escape. As for the actual (POSSIBLE SPOILER) escape scene, tense doesn't begin to describe it.

That's not to say it's just fans of the book that'll be into the film though; it stands alone as it's own work in a fine way too although be warned, it makes for an uncomfortable watch - if you're looking for something to distract from the bleakness of January then maybe give it a miss - although be sure to catch up as soon as you can - everyone from your dentist to your dog's going to be talking about this one.

You might also be interested in:

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Alicia Vikander On The Danish Girl: ‘Eddie Was Extraordinary’

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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