Isolation.  As a society, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are not alone.  As individuals, our instincts are to be with other people; to learn and grow from one another.  There are times where we isolate ourselves, so that we can reflect.  There are other times where people would seek to harm us through forced isolation. This is the basis for Lenny Abrahamson’s superb Room, a People’s Choice Award recipient at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

Ma (Brie Larson), and her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) have been isolated in a room for a number of years.  The conditions are squalid, with no privacy and the only source of light is a skylight.  Ma is tended to by “Big Nick”, providing bare essentials for them to survive.  Tired of being in isolation, Ma figures out an escape plan involving Jack.  Once they are rescued, they are rejoined with Grandma (Joan Allen) and Grandpa (William H Macy).  They learn though that the isolation was not the real challenge.

Based on her novel by the same name, Emma Donoghue’s screenplay is an emotional roller coaster.  Larson is superb in her role as Ma, as she learns to deal with a son while in captivity.  Her interactions with both Allen and Macy are impeccable.  The real star of the movie is in young Jack.  As a character, he gets to explore a whole new world, faults and all.  As an actor, he is genuinely amazed at the world and cinematographer Danny Cohen manages to capture every little nuance.

Nathan Nugent’s editing ensured that the pacing of the movie, layered with many details, was effective, while Stephen Rennicks’ hauntingly melodic score raises the emotional tension.

Room is a tense movie because of its subject matter.  But, the audience is all the better for having gone through the experience and getting to see Jack’s eyes light up at the sight of the world.