Those who go into “Room” without knowing any of the plot details may be surprised by the big reveal midway through. As editor Nathan Nugent divulges in our recent webcam chat (watch below), creating that sense of mystery was dependent on one simple principle. “The one thing I learned with this movie was to trust two things: the story and the relationship. And if you trusted those things early on in the movie, all those reveals would happen within scenes.”
Nugent credits director Lenny Abrahamson, with whom he previously work with on “Frank” (2014) and “What Richard Did” (2012), with providing him the necessary footage to enable this. “Certainly that was a big thing for Lenny, that he wouldn’t ever be so prescriptive to focus on the fact that these people are incarcerated by focusing on small things like the door or the smallness of the space too much. Things like how claustrophobic the space is is revealed very quickly through small things: Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are doing exercise in the room, and the exercise involves running from one wall to the other. That’s inherent in the scene; as an editor, I didn’t need to do anything extra to emphasize those things. So I think the audience picks these things up themselves as time goes on.”
He continues, “a big thing for us was to make the first day in Room feel quite complete for the viewer. By the end of that day — which is roughly about 10 minutes of screen time — you get the sense that these people aren’t going to leave, and also the predicament they’re in, the sense of threat that exists to both Ma and Jack’s lives. So again, it was about trusting the story and really trusting the relationship. That was a huge, huge thing: always making sure that Ma and Jack’s relationship felt real, and that it was genuinely five-years-old, because the movie doesn’t give you any flashbacks to backstory of their existence up to that point. So there was a real responsibility on the first 10 to 15 minutes to feel all of these things. As an editor, it was more about not letting the editing get in the way of these reveals that Lenny had set up and that Emma (Donoghue) had set up in the story.”
Nugent won the second of his three Irish Film and Television Awards bids for cutting “What Richard Did.” He is a strong contender to reap his first Oscar nomination for “Room.” Watch our full interview below for more about his work on this tautly wrought film.
Photo: “Room.” Courtesy: A24