It’s not every night that you get to watch, with the screenwriter on hand, an award-winning indie film based on a book you loved.
When the novel, Room, came out five years ago, I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I reached the end. The story captivated me and I recommended the book to everyone. Fast forward to a month ago when I received an email from the Boston Book Festival offering me two free tickets to the local premiere of the film, Room. I didn’t close the email until I’d reserved my two tickets.
Tonight was the night. My friend met me at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA and with buckets of popcorn (our dinner), we watched this intense film about a 5-year old boy, held captive in a small room with his mother, by the man who kidnapped his mother, seven years earlier when she was 17. Halfway through the story, they escape from their prison only to be thrown into a much more complicated world, where they have to figure out how to live within its own unexpected confines.
The author, who sat on stage and answered questions for 45 minutes after the film showing, said that she turned down several offers to make the film because she did not want the story to be too Hollywood and she didn’t want it to sink into sentimentality. She finally handed over the reins to director Lenny Abramson, after he sent her a carefully executed, 10-page letter explaining to her his vision of the story.
She chose well. The film was neither Hollywood nor overly sentimental. I certainly credit the screenwriter and director for contributing to that result but a huge part of what made the film so believable and heart-wrenching were the performances by Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as 5-year old Jack. The other actors, including Joan Allen and William H. Macy as Ma’s parents, also did an outstanding job but the mother-son dynamic was accomplished with such finesse that even now, a few hours later, I find it hard to believe that Ms. Larson and Mr. Tremblay aren’t actually mother and son.
It ends up that my memory from reading the novel included the first half of the story, but I have no recollection of the part of the book that comes after their escape. I’d actually told my friend that the book ended when they escaped. This, I learned during the Q & A, is not true. The book, like the film, was split in half: first half in the Room, second half in the world outside the Room.
It was lucky for me that we all received an autographed copy of the novel as a parting gift. Until I reread it, I won’t be able to fully accept that I forgot an entire half of the story.
Now, I need to find a free day in my schedule, because I know I won’t want to put the book down until I’ve reached the end. Which, I’ve been told, does not happen immediately after they escape.
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