2015 Best Picture nominee
Plot: A kidnapped woman and her son escape their imprisonment in a shed and then try to adapt to the world outside their room. Sorry, room. The world outside room. For some reason, the writers of this don't like article adjectives.
My 14/20 might be generous, and it's probably only because of how impressed I was--for the most part--with the performance of Jacob Tremblay. The movie rests on his shoulders even though Brie Larson won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as his mom. This is a story told from his point of view. There are perspective shots where you're seeing first [the] room through his eyes and later a world he's never known through those same eyes. You could never expect a performance by a 9 or 10 year old to be perfect, and there are some warts here. However, Tremblay manages to bring this character to life about as well an actor can bring a character to life.
A little of the seeing-the-story-through-the-little-kid's-eyes shtick goes a long way, and eventually, the movie just kind of runs out of steam. There are still emotional moments--mostly very bleak ones--but once the movie's over, it's just hard to figure out what you were supposed to get from the thing. I kept thinking there was some sort of postpartum depression subtext, but I think I was probably way off. This appears to be completely straightforward, almost annoyingly straightforward, and although it touches on post-traumatic relationships, the role of the media in stories like this, and the persistence of children's innocence in an increasingly horrifying world, it never really gives you a lot to grab onto. It just starts to feel empty after a while, like it's there just for entertainment value when it should be there for something else. Then, William H. Macy is stumbling into the picture, and things just feel like a very dark offering from the Hallmark Movie Channel.
This reminded me--for some reason--of the movie Clean, Shaven. That, too, was a movie that ultimately felt a little empty.