'Jane' is Nothing Special; 'Room' is a Masterpiece

Feb 4, 2016

Two movies to mention today: Jane Got a Gun and Room.

Jane Got a Gun is an enjoyable western with the slight novelty of a woman protagonist, but nothing special despite Natalie Portman as star; but Room is unique in the literal sense, and a masterpiece.

Jane Got a Gun has most of the elements of a western, except a western town and a cattle baron. There is a noble hero with a shady past, a noble heroine in need of rescue, isolated locations with horses galloping--always galloping--across wide vistas of yellow dirt and big rocks, and a villain so foul that I'm sure he leaves a trail of slime. There are little variations like ex-husbands and Civil War veterans, but you'll be on familiar ground, though beloved familiar ground. There is more emphasis on wounds and pain than I like; I'm a little squeamish about that.

But Room is a masterpiece.

Brie Larson and her six-year-old son have for all of the son's life lived as prisoners in a tiny shed in somebody's back yard, and the first great thing is how director Lenny Abrahamson keeps us fascinated with two characters inside a box for almost half the movie. Brie Larson is as brilliant as an actress as her character is as a mother; she almost makes life tolerable for her son, who is incredibly well-played by eight-year-old Jacob Tremblay. But what gets little attention in reviews is the second half of the story, after Larson and Tremblay get out of the shack. Joan Allen plays Larson's mother, and while Larson is great as a prisoner, Joan Allen is almost equally impressive when her daughter begins to come apart and somebody has to help Tremblay adjust to a world he didn't know existed. I wish I had time for all the excellent details in Room, but take it from me, it's a movie experience like no other.

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