This Irish/Canadian drama has an interesting premise. We meet five-year-old Jack and his mother, Ma. They go about the ordinary business of domestic life in their home but it soon becomes apparent that Ma and Jack are confined to a single room. It takes a while for us to discover why and, for a while, we are no more than arm’s length from them, seeing everything through their eyes. On the surface, the film explores the challenges we face in life and the courage we may find within ourselves but it also posits a deeper question – how much do we need to protect children from the world?
I enjoyed the first half of this film. The performances by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are convincing and I liked the claustrophobic feel and the slow reveal of their situation. It is not just the mechanics of the plot that are being revealed, we also slowly realise the predicament Ma is in – what world do you create for a child, particularly when your choice of what that world is has been removed? How do you protect your child from harm and what is the benefit of exposing them to risk? You can see how these questions resonate with real-world discussions about helicopter versus free range parenting.
I didn’t love the last half of this film. Although there is some genuine drama, the story lost pace and became somewhat mired in sentiment. I looked at my watch. I shut my eyes for a moment. Never a good sign.
Bechdel test – pass