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‘Room’ could be the indie version of ‘Gone Girl.’ Here’s why.

Brie Larson (Ma) and Jacob Tremblay (Jack) in “Room.” (George Kraychyk/Courtesy of A24)

(This post contains spoilers about the plot of “Room” and “Gone Girl.”)

By now, you may have heard of “Room,” the critically acclaimed, deeply-disturbing-yet-riveting movie about a young woman and her son who have been held prisoner in a shed for years. As the trailer shows, the two escape, and the film looks at how they adjust to the outside world.

The growing buzz surrounding the movie — which just opened in limited release and goes wide Nov. 6 — and the film itself remind us of another recent film: the smash “Gone Girl.” At first glance, they have nothing in common. The plots are deeply different, as are the budgets, with distribution companies like Twentieth Century Fox (“Gone Girl”) and the independent A24 (“Room”). Still, we’re convinced that “Room” could be the indie version of last year’s hit thriller.

[Coming into awards season, ‘Room’ star Brie Larson could be the actress to beat]

1. They’re both adaptations of polarizing best-selling books.

Irish author Emma Donoghue was a finalist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for “Room,” told from the perspective of Jack as he celebrates his fifth birthday. Jack’s mother (known in the book only as Ma) was kidnapped as a teenager by an evil psychopath she calls Old Nick. Two years into captivity, she gives birth to Jack, who thinks the world is made up solely of everything in the shed, known as “Room.” Eventually, Jack learns the truth, and the pair break out of the shed — but the real world also proves to be a painful place.

The book was an international hit and sold 2 million copies, though readers debated the concept of a young child as the narrator. “Gone Girl” also had questions about its narration, though in a much different sense. Gillian Flynn’s New York Times bestseller, selling around 8 million copies, was told by Amy Dunne — a writer who proved to be unreliable in lots of special and scary ways. Still, its polarization led to its bestseller status. In both cases, no one could stop talking about either book, resulting in movie deals.

2. Both movies have tons of early Oscars hype.

Excitement for “Gone Girl” built all the way back when Ben Affleck landed the role of Nick Dunne, the husband framed for the murder of his wife, Amy. But Rosamund Pike stole the buzz when the film debuted, wowing critics with her quiet and terrifying portrayal of Amy. As expected, all that talk turned into an Oscar nomination for Pike, as well as four Golden Globe nods for the movie.

A similar wave of hype is happening for 26-year-old Brie Larson, who plays Ma in “Room” and is already considered a front-runner for award season. The film became the breakout hit of the Telluride Film Festival this summer and then hit its stride at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award. As Variety notes, that trophy is “often an awards season harbinger, has gone to films such as ‘American Beauty,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ ‘The King’s Speech’ and ’12 Years a Slave’ in the past.” In other words, it’s looking good for “Room,” which already brought in $120,000 in a mere four theaters this past weekend.

3. Both movies are about powerful women. 

Though “Room” is told from Jack’s point of view, Ma is obviously a key figure. It’s an extremely challenging role, as Ma can’t let herself be truly broken by her situation — she has to stay strong for Jack’s sake. Even though their world is a garden shed, she still teaches him to read and write and exercise and somehow have a childhood even in their prison. Ma walks a fine line between staying upbeat and completely falling apart, which culminates in a suicide attempt when she finally escapes her captor. But even though she goes through hell (being captured, raped, abused) she still finds the strength to keep going every day.

Amy is another kind of powerful, because she’s also a complete sociopath — after all, she stages her own kidnapping and murder and frames her cheating husband for it. But Amy is fiercely independent, doesn’t let anyone push her around, and delivers Flynn’s now-famous “Cool Girl” speech (about the unrealistic expectations that men have of women) with such devastating accuracy that “Cool Girl” has now become part of the pop culture lexicon.

[Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’ was a huge hit in theaters. So why did ‘Dark Places’ barely make an impact?]

4. Both movies are psychological dramas that also deal with crime. 

There’s nothing viewers like more than a good crime and/or psychological thriller, and “Gone Girl” and “Room” manage to have both. Seriously, why do you think the “Law & Order” franchise has lasted for decades? Combine everyday people with shocking crimes — though it’s horrifying, audiences can’t stay away.

5. Both movies have endings that leave room for debate.

The key to a sustaining movie is one that gives audiences something to discuss as they leave the theater. “Gone Girl”  has that in spades, especially with an ending that has infuriated many readers of the book. “Room” isn’t nearly as polarizing, but its conclusion is certainly worth talking about, especially given the nightmarish conditions the characters went through earlier in the movie. Either way, that kind of discussion is invaluable to a movie’s chances for success.

Read more:

‘Gone Girl’: Let’s discuss that ending

‘Gone Girl’ deftly skewers the Nancy Grace cable TV culture

Ben Affleck plays a guy ‘with a face you want to punch’ in ‘Gone Girl.’ How did he do?

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