Hammerle on ... 'Room,' 'Spectre'

November 18, 2015

bob hammerle movie reviews“Room”

“Room,” directed by Lenny Abrahamson, has already made a spectacular splash at the New York and Toronto Film Festivals. There is a reason, as the movie leaves you both captivated and devastated from the opening scene.

It centers on a young woman who was kidnapped and forced to live for seven years in a one-room, windowless shed where she is repeatedly raped by her abductor. In the process she gives birth to a son who she elects to raise in this prison-type environment.

The movie begins with the young boy’s fifth birthday, and you watch an incredible mother try to raise him as a normal human being despite the fact that his only access to the outside world is a television and a skylight. Though she has to submit to her captor’s sexual advances while suffering lingering wrist injuries after she unsuccessfully tried to assault him years earlier, she never allows her attention to sway from her young son. I can only say that you are left astonished as you watch the film with an aching heart from your theater seat.

hammerle-rating-room.jpgWhat follows is a daring rescue that only extends this poor woman’s torment. With a son having no idea how to climb or descend stairs, much less form friendships with other kids, she is left with a father (courageously performed by William H. Macy) who can’t look at his grandson because he is a bastard child. When, Ma, played by Brie Larson, is asked in a TV interview why she decided to keep a child who was the product of a rape, she simply responds, “He was my son.”

Let me say without qualification that you will not see a more spectacular performance by any actress at any time than that given by Brie Larson as the abducted mother. I have been a big fan of hers since watching her in “Short Term 12” (2013), and she has a unique ability to portray a struggling young woman with a heart of gold.

What she endures is beyond description, yet she won’t waver in trying to help her child embrace a world that he cannot experience. The little boy doesn’t understand what is meant by trees or animals, and is prone to consider them as little more than fabricated images shown on his television.

And while you will appreciate Joan Allen’s heartfelt performance as Ma’s loving mother, you will never forget the performance of young Jacob Tremblay, here playing the 5-year-old boy. There have been memorable performances by child actors over the years ranging from Mickey Rooney in “Boys Town” (1938) to Drew Barrymore in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), but Tremblay performs at a level that could very well earn some type of Oscar nomination.

Let’s stop complaining and remember that all children deserve love. My wife has a poster with pictures of several death row inmates as kids. It asks a simple question, “Shouldn’t we be asking what went wrong?”


With more holes than presidential candidate Ben Carson’s autobiography, “Spectre” has been severely ripped by critics across the country. Quite honestly, they need to lighten up, as James Bond has become a modern day Superman without the cape. Furthermore, given that it was filmed in Austria, Mexico, Italy, Morocco and the UK, every scene is beautiful to watch.

Just as Sean Connery did with his initial portrayal of Bond, Daniel Craig has a ruthless style and charm that holds this rambling film together. No one has ever looked better on screen in a tux than these two gentlemen, and male members of the audience again learn that the quickest way to a woman’s heart is a dry martini – shaken, not stirred.

hammerle-rating-spectre.jpgYes, the film has weaknesses, not the least of which is its attempt to incorporate various moments of Bond’s past. The disjointed nature of this movie is best reflected by the manner used by director Sam Mendes in handling Dave Bautista’s role as a recreation of the old Bond villain “Jaws.” While it was fun to watch his battle with Bond, you are left wishing that Mendes had found a way in this 2-hour-and-20-minute film to have Bautista display the wit and character seen in “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014).

Additionally, while our hero’s continual escape from death rivals that of Tom Cruise in this year’s “Mission: Impossible,” it becomes increasingly ridiculous as the film lengthens. It is hard to resist laughing when Bond emerges from brutal beatings and collapsing buildings without suffering even a minor bruise.

And then there are Bond’s women. His brief encounter with Lucia (Monica Bellucci), the widow of a man he just killed, was as embarrassing as it was forgettable. On the other hand, while Léa Seydoux fell short of Rebecca Ferguson’s performance in the above-referred to “Mission: Impossible,” she showed some spunk while traveling under Bond’s protection.

Fortunately, one of the principal reasons that this film works for so many viewers is the strength found from the supporting actors. Though they only appear briefly, Ralph Fiennes (M), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) provide some interest at every turn. Unfortunately, while the great Christoph Waltz is always a pleasure to watch in any movie, he is not given nearly enough time on screen as the arch villain Oberhauser.

Regardless, it is to Craig’s credit that this film was such a gigantic hit during its first weekend of release here in the States. Great directors like Robert Zemekis and Danny Boyle had their films (“The Walk” and “Steve Jobs,” respectively) largely die on the vine, while Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” has earned far less at the box office in three weeks than Bond did in three days.

Where is my dry martini?•

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


Recent Articles by Robert Hammerle