Room Will Make You Re-Examine Parenting

Room stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, Courtesy of A24

June 2013. About a month after the passing of my father. My wife and I decide to take in a matinee of a popcorn movie: Man of Steel.

Partly into the movie, Clark Kent’s adoptive father (who knows, of course, of his son’s otherworldly powers) gets trapped in the path an oncoming tornado. Clark sees the situation about to unfold from a ways away. Knowing that his son could save him — but, in turn, reveal his superhuman strength — the father looks at him and gently gestures to him NOT to.

I completely burst into a trembling ball of tears.

There are moments in movies sometimes that can reach out from the screen, plunge a fist into your chest and have their way with your heart.

There are about 5 or 8 of those moments in Room.

Father-son relationships (or themes of brothers) were always a soft spot for me. So, I imagine all this was amplified in the surrounding circumstances that led to my mid-movie Man of Steel meltdown. I had no such meltdowns during Room; but — being a parent for a little more than a year and a half — there certainly was enough plucking of my heart-strings.

From the opening moments of the film, Brie Larson — who deserves any kind of attention/acclaim she receives for the role of Ma — amazingly captures the day-to-day weariness of parenthood, let alone a parent in this drastic a situation. (Seriously, I was so surprised to relate to this 20-something who has no kids in real life and how she could even begin to understand it.) Brava!

Joan Allen, William H. Macy, and Brie Larson, Courtesy of A24

Other heart-wrenching connections in the film occur when Ma is reunited with her mom (Joan Allen) and dad (William H. Macy) — the tearful hug! ugh! — and especially when Ma breaks down to Jack and says “I’m not a good enough Ma for you.” He responds in the simple yet poignant way kids have a knack for:

“But you’re Ma.”

The climactic scene — which comes at around the hour mark in the almost-2-hour film — will put your heart on pause. You will be completely on edge until it’s over. Try to remember to breathe.

Jacob Tremblay in Room, Courtesy of A24

Perhaps what the movie does best though (and perhaps something we don’t do often enough as parents) is put into perspective what life looks like through the eyes of a 5-year-old boy. You see a whole new world from his point-of-view and get a peek into how he is trying to understand it all.

Living on the outside of “Room” is no picnic, having to deal with new people, all new experiences, heck, even natural light. Watching Jack and Ma survive a life with so little makes you take stock and look at how much we all take for granted on a daily basis. Jack sums this up when he says not knowing what they want in life is rather freeing, it means: “We get to try everything and see what we like.”