Movies – Room Review (or “The One Where The Star Doesn’t Get Top Billing”)

In an episode of Baddiel & Skinner: Unplanned, the comedy duo were asked how they decided upon the order of billing in the title. The answer was simple; it was alphabetical.

For ensemble pieces, I think that’s a good system, while for shows where there’s one obvious lead, I think it’s fair that the main star is given the first name check.

And yet there are sometimes odd exceptions. One that comes to mind is the West Wing, where the largely unimportant Rob Lowe was always first on an otherwise alphabetical bill. Ego? Perhaps.Room

Room is another example of this.

Whether it’s imdb, Google or even the poster, the message is clear; it’s ‘Room, starring Brie Larson’.

And yet that’s not really true. Room – a movie about a young woman and her product-of-rape son who have been kept prisoner for years in a shed until they manage to escape and reintegrate into the real world – stars 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay.

This is a movie told almost entirely from the perspective of a wee boy (Trembley) who has never seen set foot outside of the four walls of ‘Room’. The focus of the movie rarely strays from him.

And yet presumably because of his age and maybe even because of marketing, he’s not considered the star.

That’s a pity, because he obviously is the star, and I say that as someone who finds child actors mostly crap and/or obnoxious. He’s really good.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with Brie Larson’s performance either, but she’s very much the supporting artist.

Anyway, away from the politics of billing, I guess you’re keen to find out if the movie is any good?

Well it is and it’s not. It gets rave reviews from most critics, and I would certainly have considered them justified up to a point, but for me it goes on too long.

The first half of the movie – up to and including their escape and hospital stay – are absorbing and highly original. But the second half – as we see them slowly readjust back to a normal life – just felt like it went on and on. It was dreary.

You know how some films end too soon and you think to yourself “I’d have liked to have seen what happened after the big finale?”. Well the opposite is true here. It’s a bit like if Return of the Jedi had an extra hour attached to the end of it where we got to see the whole after-party on Endor and then the next day where they are all hungover and talking about going back to their own planets. That wouldn’t be exciting, and neither was the second half of Room.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say it ruined it – I still enjoyed it in the main – but had that section been condensed into a faster paced 30 minutes, I think it would have made the movie better.

So basically, this was a game of two halves, but having said that, I still think it’s worth going to on the strength of the first.


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