Adaptation Blu-ray Review

'Room' Blu-ray Review: Brie Larson's Oscar-winning performance guides this outside-the-box drama

March 8, 2016Ben MK

Abducted and held captive in an eleven-foot by eleven-foot cell — for most movies, that might signal the start of a tense thriller or a suspenseful tale of revenge. However, in the case of Room, it marks the beginning of a touching and emotional journey, one that underscores the strength of the bond between a mother and her child.

Based on Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel of the same name, Room is the story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a five-year-old boy for whom the world — or at least the one we know — does not exist. In Jack's world, there is no sky; there are no trees; animals are only make-believe; and, aside from his Ma (Brie Larson), there are no other people with whom to interact. Instead, everything the young boy has known since birth can be contained within the cramped, windowless quarters that he and his mother share, comprised of little more than a sink, a toilet, a bathtub, some basic furniture and a TV.

Still, for Jack this room is a wondrous universe unto itself: a magical bubble floating through the vacuum of outer space, where imaginary creatures dwell and there are always fantastical stories to be told. The product of his Ma's teachings, Jack's unique world view is her way of protecting him from the harsh reality of their situation. Kidnapped at the age of seventeen by a man known only as "Old Nick," she has spent the past seven years confined to her captor's garden shed, which has been transformed into a makeshift prison, replete with a steel door and soundproofed walls.

When it finally comes time to stage an escape, Jack's mother is confronted with a difficult task: to shatter her son's world so that he may have the chance to live a normal life. The decision is not easy, but it's a necessary one; and the aftereffects will truly test the strength of their relationship. Although it's virtually impossible to say more about the movie without spoiling it, know that despite the subject matter, Room isn't a downer. On the contrary, it's a powerful and life-affirming film steered by two amazing performances. And it will make you rethink what it means to live, as well as to love.

Room is overall a rather low-key affair, both visually and in terms of the film's sound design. Yet, despite the fact that there is little flash to this hi-def presentation, it's still a pleasing effort, and there isn't much to complain about. The image quality is reasonably sharp and detailed, providing plenty of opportunities to peruse the textures on objects and fabrics, and color saturation and contrast are also excellent. Likewise, the primary DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does its job just fine, as the movie is in large part dialogue-driven, with sparing use of additional sound effects.

Elevation Pictures' one-disc release includes the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Lenny Abrahamson, Cinematographer Danny Cohen, Editor Nathan Nugent and Production Designer Ethan Tobman - The filmmakers talk about the movie's visual imagery, the lighting challenges, the structure of the narrative, the actors' performances, the set design, the logistics of the camera work and more.
  • Making Room (12:03) - Author/Screenwriter Emma Donoghue, Producer Ed Guiney, Director Lenny Abrahamason and the cast talk about adapting Donoghue's novel for the screen, the story's themes and the film's cast.
  • 11 x 11 (9:06) - Production Designer Ethan Tobman and Cinematographer Danny Cohen talk about the film's production design and the lighting, as well as shooting the movie in chronological order.
  • Recreating Room (4:23) - A piece about how the Room set was recreated inside a gallery space near L.A.'s Landmark Theater, as the centerpiece of a multimedia exhibit dedicated to the film.

Room is available from Elevation Pictures as of March 1st, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 58 Mins.

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