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Room: How the movie simply compliments the book.

Emily Harrison By Emily Harrison Published on January 12, 2016

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Room by Emma Donoghue is the story of a woman kidnapped and locked in a small room with her 5-year-old son Jack.

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Ma, the female protagonist, attempts to make life as normal as she can for Jack. Product of rape, Jack has no idea that his mother's kidnapper is actually his father. The book in itself is a powerful account of a mother trying to do the best for her child in atrocious conditions.

There are some differences in book and in the movie but overall the screen adaptation seems to provide the audience with the elements that were missing from the book. As Rachel Simon from Bustle confirms, "it keeps the heart of the book alive while adding in a few impressive cinematic changes — in other words, it's everything you want a book-to-movie adaptation to be."

Written through the eyes of Jack, the book portrays the only world Jack knows: Room. The reader is pulled in by the naïve and whimsical descriptions of the otherwise dingy and dirty area Jack must call home. Every morning he says “Good morning” to the inanimate objects in the room: the lamp, the plant, etc.

However, what we do miss as the reader is Ma’s perspective and outlook on the living conditions. Making the most of the little she has, the movie allows us to witness the constant struggle she faces every morning to think up interesting activities, nutritious food and good hygiene.

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The fate of the two hostages is that of a great escape. Ma manages to convince “Old Nick” (her kidnapper) that Jack is dead and they need to dispose of the body. By succeeding in getting Jack out of the room and onto a truck, their escape plan worked. Jack was able to get help and have his kidnapper arrested. It is with joy and a great deal of emotion that we accompany Ma and Jack in their reintegration back into the real world. A world that Jack never knew existed.

Whereas the book’s main component is about telling the story inside the room, the movie spends more time showing us what happens once the two are reunited with their family. The book by no means leave us wanting on this aspect but it is only human nature to want to see and know more about the ‘after’ and the movie offers it to us. The book does however provide more details on the kidnappers fate. The movie tends to allude to his arrest but does not go into details.

Once free, the movie indulges us with the reactions of the grandparents. As much as the book describes what Jack experiences and what he feels as he meets family members for the first time, the movie opens up the emotion to another level as we witness the pain and suffering of two parents come to an end as they discover they are now grandparents and reunite with their daughter. As Donoghue, author and screenwriter, says, "there are things fiction does better—like, there are lots of Jack’s thoughts in the book. The film does a different thing and it gives the characters their bodies."

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Donoghue, knew that she would have to change the angle of the book to work in cinema. Fortunately, her director Lenny Abrahamson was confident that even the biggest of her fans would not be disappointed with the film as he says “the crew worked completely within the confines of the space, never removing walls or using other tricks to make filming easier.”

Often the screen adaptation does not always do the book justice. In this case, the movie does not try to duplicate the novel, which is so innocently written through the wise and overly observant eyes of a 5 year old, but takes the most compelling parts and weaves them all together to make for an excellent portrayal of a mother trying to do the best for her child. 




British Canadian with a passion for travelling, languages, food and all things books. And most importantly, a loving wife and Mummy to two wonderful boys.

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