Nathaniel popping in from TIFF for a short note from a simply delirious high before an attempt at desperately needed sleep. I've just seen Lenny Abrahamson's Room (adapted for the screen by the novelist herself Emma Donoghue) and it is incredible. I lost track of how many times I teared up and I kept realizing my face was freezing into long-held expressions of wonder or terror. And it's funny at times, too. Both halves of the story, 'inside and outside' you might call them, are entirely compelling. A
At the Premiere
The audience gave the director a long standing ovation tonight and stood right back up minutes later when he brought out the film's stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who deliver one of the most symbiotic screen duets in memory. He is only eight years old but was seven when they filmed the picture and his work is easily on par with Quvenzhané Wallis's much ballyhooed turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild in terms of completely natural and riveting child performances. Brie Larson, as we already knew from Short Term 12, is a wonder with child actors, and she's just as Oscar-worthy this time in a complicated haunting role.
I spoke with the director at the after party briefly to congratulate him on how cinematic it was (somehow I expected something more stage-bound) and he asked if I'd read the book ("no") and that I should. He did worry a little about people reading the book directly beforehand and having a "double image" in their mind when watching. Donoghue, for her part, is thrilled with the film version. She said something along the lines of 'I don't want to denigrate my own craft, but there are some places only the cinema can go' on stage tonight.
Oscar Chances: Let's just say they'd better. This is not just an actor's film or a literary rooted triumph. The sound, cinematography, editing, design and music are all beautifully handled. As for Jacob Tremblay, if he's Oscar nominated he'll become the youngest male actor ever so honored*
*this is an estimate. Justin Henry (Kramer vs Kramer, 1979 Best Supporting Actor) was 8 years and 270 days old and Jackie Cooper (Skippy, 1931 Best Actor) was 9 years and 20 days old when they were nominated, so unless Jacob's birthday (unknown at this writing) was some time ago and he's already close to 9, he'll take the record away from them. It's the lead role but with child actors they nearly always push them supporting: think Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon who is in 93% of her movie but we'll see.