Room is harrowing yet absorbing; The disappointing Sisters is only fleetingly funny



Dir:  Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus

Not having read the Booker Prize nominated novel by Emma Donoghue from which the movie is adapted (by the author herself) I wasn’t quite sure what was going on as the movie began. There is a mother (Brie Larson) and her five-year old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) confined to a small room which - it appears - they cannot leave for some reason. They have some basic provisions but not much beyond that. Is this a post-apocalyptic scenario or something else? Why can’t the mother and child leave the room? How do they get their food and other necessities?

As the horrifying truth is revealed to us the movie almost becomes too painful to watch. But amidst the horror there is also love - the love of the mother for her son and the love of the son for his mother - and a certain kind of magic. It is the magic that the mother creates for her son in the ten-square-foot space that is their world and about the world that exists outside of that restricted space. Director Lenny Abrahamson’s triumph is in showing us these worlds through the eyes of Jacob and the performances of Larson and Tremblay keep you riveted. Larson has been around in supporting roles for some time now and doesn’t waste her opportunity here as she takes centre stage with a searingly raw performance. She has therefore, unsurprisingly, swept the awards season this year including winning the Oscar for Best Actress (though my personal favourite female lead of the year was Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn I certainly don’t mind Larson winning). However, Jacob Tremblay’s astonishing performance is equally deserving of recognition and it is almost a crime that he wasn’t nominated for either the Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Room is a difficult watch but it should not be missed. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Cut to chase: Harrowing, absorbing, powerful.


Sisters **

Dir:  Jason Moore

Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph, John Cena, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest - and smartest - women working in Hollywood these days. And they have pretty good track records – both separately (30 Rock, Parks And Recreation) and together (Baby Mama, Saturday Night Live, hosting the Golden Globe Awards). So you expect a certain level of quality when the two of them come together. Par for the course their new comedy about two sisters returning to their soon-to-be-sold childhood home and dredging up certain unresolved issues in the bargain starts out humorously enough and hints at a certain level of emotional depth. Unfortunately, half-way through Sisters manages to lose most of the yuks and the sentiments never manage to go beyond the shallow end of the emotional pool.

While it is interesting to see Fey and Poehler flip their roles from Baby Mama (the former’s the wild one and the latter’s the buttoned-up one this time around) and the two have definite comic chemistry together and some jokes stick their landings, the movie runs out of steam fairly quickly and resorts to long drawn out crassness for most of its latter half. Sisters could easily have lost 40 minutes of its almost two hours running time and been better off for it. Some points though for Maya Rudolph’s turn as an old high-school nemesis of the siblings and a deadpanning John Cena elicits some chuckles as a local drug dealer.

Cut to chase: Fey / Poehler fans will be disappointed.

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