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Room (Blu-ray Review)

ROOM_BDskew_OcardNow you have a chance to bring home this crucially acclaimed Oscar winner. Based on Emma Donoghue‘s bestselling novel, Room is a powerful drama that tells an shocking, yet credible story of survival. There is intensity and surprises to be found, but the film is most notable for its incredible performances from Best Actress winner Brie Larson and her young co-star Jacob Tremblay.

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Film:

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The story was inspired by a real-life scenario in which a woman was held captive in a single room with her children for years. Room focuses on five-year-old Jack (Tremblay) and his mom, Ma (Larson), who live in a room that features a bed, a kitchen, a bathtub and other things required for a single living space. As Jack has lived only in this room (which he calls ‘Room’) he believes it represents the entire world.

There are more details about how two of them have survived over this time, but the film is far more interesting thanks to its presentation and design. We are thrown right into Room and it’s a credit to Larson’s capabilities as an actress and a strong screenplay (also written by Donoghue) that none of the details ever feel forced.

Tremblay is given the task of playing a character who is the embodiment of naivety. Where lesser child actors could seem too cloying in a role such as this, Tremblay hits all the right notes to make you believe that he could only understand what has been presented to him. The film features narration from Jack, which helps break the tension and provides perspective on how effective his mother has been in developing his young mind.

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While the film presents a horrible scenario that is grounded in reality, director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) does not over-direct. The suspense is palpable, but Room is just as effective a film about parenting and motherhood. Larson is in an incredibly challenging situation where she must put her child ahead of her needs, and this is where the film shines brightest as the audience witnesses the fallout from the characters’ state of normalcy being jeopardized.

Without going too much into detail, we eventually do meet other characters, and they are all terrifically acted by a supporting cast featuring Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Sean Bridgers. Once Room expands, even more weight is added to the choices made by the various individuals involved, but the film is always in control of itself. Rather than jump to sensationalized conclusions or hackneyed plot devices, the film keeps the actors working hard to earn its emotional climax.

Room never compromises its vision, and it never feels limited by its minimal surroundings. It will be tough to watch for some, but is an undoubtedly compelling take on its source material. The acting is strong across the board, with Larson easily deserving her Academy Award. Don’t take it for your standard Oscar-bait, though, as Room presents a nuanced story that is quite affecting.

 

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Room’s solid video transfer allows the film to be viewed for what it is. With a large portion of this drama being set in one location, the digitally shot film has a very deliberate shift after certain events occur. With that in mind, there is never a lack of clarity in what we are seeing.

Depth: Many interesting directorial choices are made clearer when examining how great the sense of depth is for this film and in its video presentation.

Black Levels: Black levels are mostly solid, though the first half of the film features some minor moments of crush.

Color Reproduction: Colors become more evident at certain points, but when they are pushed to stand out in a given scene, they come across quite well.

Flesh Tones: With all the close-ups we get, you get a great look at the facial details found on all the main players.

Noise/Artifacts: Very minor noise, but nothing harmful.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

Dynamics: The lossless audio track does well for this small feature. The film is intensely intimate for obvious reasons, but that does not take away from the way this mix emphasized the claustrophobic nature of the film.

Low Frequency Extension: One big scene amounts for a fine moment for the LFE channel to get some play and it plays well.

Surround Sound Presentation: This audio track is center-focused, given the amount of talking going on, but we do get a good sense of balance when considering the score and other aspects.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone can be heard.

 

Extras:

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Room is not loaded with extras, but there is a commentary track and a few featurettes to make things worthwhile.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Lenny Abrahamson, Cinematographer Danny Cohen, Editor Nathan Nugent and Production Designer Ethan Tobman – As a fan of Frank, I was happy to listen to another Abrahamson commentary track that explores how this film came to be.
  • Making Room (HD, 12:03) – A standard EPK that looks at the making of the film, with cast and crew interviews.
  • 11 x 11 (HD, 9:06) – A featurette that looks at the meaning of the small space our lead characters find themselves in.
  • Recreating Room (HD, 4:23) – A look at one of the ways this film was presented for a theatrical screening in LA.
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

Summary:

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Room is a terrific motion picture that served as one of the best dramas of 2015. Great performances and a fine handle on the material really put this film over the top. The Blu-ray is strong as well, with a solid technical presentation. You only get so much with the extras, the commentary makes it all worthwhile. It’s heavy, but be prepared for a really good film with this one.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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