Celebrating Great Films

Thursday, February 16, 2017


#133 at the time of writing.

Wow. How do you take such a horrifyingly unpleasant subject and turn it into something so hopeful, compelling, complex, even beautiful? The writing and directing are excellent, but a large part of the credit has to go to Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay who deliver the realest possible performances.

This is the story of a woman who has been kidnapped and held captive for years in a windowless room, barred from the outside world, and treated as a sex slave. Her son, the product of one of the rapes, grows up thinking that this one room is the whole world. She longs to escape, but the outside world may prove more of a challenge than expected.

Yeah, I know, heavy right? And sadly inspired by real life crimes such as those perpetrated by Josef Fritzl, Ariel Castro and Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Yet this film manages to transcend its distasteful subject matter.

In preparation for the role Brie Larson reportedly isolated herself at home for a month, following a strict diet and cutting off contact with the outside world. She didn't think it would be too difficult, but towards the last week she became very depressed and would cry all day.

Interesting trivia: although it's not made explicit in the film, Ma continues to breastfeed Jack even at five years old. In a film about one of the most universal and instinctively correct taboos, it's refreshing to see a less axiomatic taboo ignored.

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