Brandon Singh’s review published on Letterboxd:
When I heard that this film won the TIFF People's Choice Awards back in September, I was skeptical - usually most films that win those awards are either mainstream or emotionally-manipulative drivel. So, I finally sat down and watched this film, and my fears of it being emotionally-manipulative Oscar bait, unfortunately came true. This is one of the most disappointing films I saw this year, and I did not see a great film here.
Let's start with my two biggest flaws:
1) The score is so manipulative in this film and so prominent that any scene that was supposed to pack an emotional wallop was completely gone, because the music pretty much dictated how I was supposed to feel. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in films. The music should have been an underscore (music that you know is there, but doesn't overpower the scene). Also, the score is almost completely wall-to-wall, not giving me a chance to properly absorb the scenes.
2) The writing. Okay, the writing isn't good - I'm going to be straight up with you, guys; the writing here wasn't strong. To begin with, we know next to nothing about Joy, so I couldn't connect with her in any way. Now, I have been told to watch this film from Jacob's perspective, and I did, but, truth be told, it didn't really help. Jacob just seemed like a child you would see in a movie, not in real-life (peppy and a little annoying at times). Now, I cannot emphasize with these characters, because I haven't been put in a situation like this, but I felt that the characters should've felt more dreadful then they were portrayed here. There was a moment about an hour in, where the tone of the film was spot-on, and I said to myself, "why couldn't the film be more like this?" At that point, I saw a good film come out, but then it went back into sappy territory again.
And speaking of tone, this film's tone is all over the place. When the film starts, it is a quirky, happy-wappy family drama, then it turns into a suspense-thriller, and then it turns into an sad, but uplifting drama. There is no sense of natural progression and it just seemed to change just for the convenience of the plot.
When I watched Prisoners, for instance, I felt dread and suspense throughout the entire film. I WANTED those kids found and back into those father's hands. But, here, I didn't feel the same way at all - I sensed no connection or urgency in these people that Prisoners had - in fact, had I not read the synopsis, I would've thought that Joy and Jacob were travellers staying the basement of someone's house as guests - I never truly sensed that they were abducted until nearly an hour in! That is just not good! I shouldn't have to say this with a film, but I am! When the ending comes, I didn't feel rewarded - in fact, I felt like something was missing.
So, those are the negatives - I am sure I am going receive a lot of controversy for that, but sorry, that's how I feel. I will give the film this though - the acting is wonderful. Everyone brought their A-game, and they did a great job. Brie Larson deserves the nominations. And, as stated earlier, the scene taking place an hour in, was very good.
Room was a huge letdown; I wish the film was more dark and brutal; then, I would've been more engaged in the film. This was a huge step-down compared to Lenny's previous film, Frank, which was wonderful.
Final Grade: D