"When the audience responds to the film in the spirit that we made it in, that's the most satisfying thing," readily admits Lenny Abrahamson, director of the acclaimed drama "Room." "We made it in a very life-affirming spirit. The focus of the film is on the relationship between the mother and the son, on its durability, on its value and on this love story, the fact that people pick that up and feel emotionally connected to the film, that's been wonderful." (Watch our complete video chat below.)
"Room" tells the story of a young woman (Brie Larson) who has been held captive for years and is raising a five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) who has never known life in the outside world. Emma Donoghue adapted her acclaimed 2010 novel, which was a finalist for the Man Booker prize. "It's almost an axiom in the film industry that authors shouldn't adapt their own work because the assumption is they're going to be very precious about it, they're not going to want to change anything," declares the director, "but we didn't have that experience at all. We were both pulling in the same direction trying to make this film as truthful an adaptation as possible."
Much of the film rests on the shoulders of young Tremblay, who quickly developed his substantial skills as an actor on set. "If you can imagine someone with a great talent for something but has never really had much chance to practice it," Abrahamson explains. "An example I give is, there was a point before Tiger Woods ever held a golf club; it's the same with Jake."
As for Larson as his protective mother, the director says, "She's got this very natural, warm presence. She's a great actor, but she's also an actor who doesn't parade her greatness … she just inhabits the character, and it's important in this film that there's that generosity."
"Room" opened in limited release on October 16 before a nationwide expansion on November 6. How will it do at the Oscars? Watch our interview with Abrahamson below, then use our drag-and-drop menu at the bottom of this post to predict whether he will win Best Director.
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Lenny Abrahamson Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/REX
"Room" Photo Credit: Caitlin Cronenberg/A24