Jess Boswell’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jack is 5 years old. For those 5 years of his life, he's grown up with the same four walls surrounding him. He's never experienced anything outside of Room. His Ma has struggled to keep up this livelihood, yet still accomplishing to make a loathsome situation slightly bearable for her son's sake. Adapted from the novel by Emma Donoghue, Room shows what it's like to finally escape the isolating surroundings and into an unchartered world through the eyes of a naive and sheltered child.
Told from the perspective of Jack, a young, innocent protagonist who has never had the opportunity to experience the real world. Apart from the obviously unorthodox upbringing, he's still a very typical child. Finding solace in playing with toys and making up stories while going through the mundane routine his mum has developed for them in order to make the best of a bad situation. The first segment shows this repetitive system, exploring the relationship between Jack and Ma, introducing their characters as well as the situation they are fastened to involving Old Nick. It was a poignant development, slow in terms of filmic progress, but brilliant when it came down to fleshing out the characters.
The characters themselves were ingeniously exhibited. Jacob Tremblay performs wonderfully as Jack, despite having the difficult task of acting as a child protagonist, he surprisingly accomplished a convincing and touching portrayal. Jack's character is full of depth and intrigue, especially for such a young persona. The audience is able to fully understand the difficulties he experiences, and follow his journey to finally seeing the world outside the four walls of Room.
His innocent eyesight is portrayed brilliantly, the emotions are presented in a impressive and moving display. With typical child tantrums, not fully able to understand the problems his mother has gone through, yet still wanting to learn and grow. Young actors such as Tremblay are usually overlooked, even when they play the protagonist role, yet this portrayal was so truthful and moving, and wholesome. A very admirable presentation from such a young actor.
The love between mother and child is another example of wonderfully constructed character development and presentation. Ma (played by Brie Larson), stressed, solitary and cut off from the rest of the world at a young age, has an unsettling past. Living 7 years confined to enclosed surroundings, affected by unfortunate and irregular situations that no one should have to go through. She's a determined young woman, staying strong for her unplanned son's sake. From the hurt and distressed eyes of a loving mother, trying to communicate to her son the full extent to their predicament, it's a traumatic visual to create, but these performers pull it off so well, it's truly touching.
It's a hard hitting, uniquely gripping narrative, presented brilliantly in order to fully see the profound, severe circumstances that isn't a usual storyline that is covered in film. It's slowly paced, but that allows the audience time to process and fully appreciate the nature of the narrative. Narrated by a childlike innocent perspective, providing a new approach to viewing the world as an infinite space. The screenplay is beautifully developed, unfolding events slowly over time, providing reassuring resolution.
Personally, I was quite anxious about how this film was going to turn out. The book was one of the first books that I truly fell in love with, so knowing it was to be adapted into the cinema was both exciting and unnerving. As adaptations go, this was a faithful endeavour. Knowing that Donoghue also wrote the screenplay is a reassurance because it helped stick closely to what was originally written. The more I think about this, the more of an impact I think it had on me, truly a heart-felt tale of family, and facing troubled pasts.