nocturne407’s review published on Letterboxd:
The opening scene of Room slyly reveals the single attribute that remains consistent to the very end of the film; its closeness. Inherently personal, director Lenny Abrahamson somehow manages to transform what should be a claustrophobic space into what is an almost comprehensible world of its own. This is of course a method in solidifying the point of view of Jack, the young child who was born and raised in a shed after his mother was kidnapped and held captive. The film is incredibly successful in translating Jack’s sense of normalcy; Room is all he’s ever known.
Of course, this wouldn’t have been achieved if it weren’t for Jacob Tremblay, who gives what can only be described as an outstanding performance as Jack. Probably the most convincing acting I’ve seen from an 8 year-old. The rest of the cast are successful too, with Brie Larson (Jack’s mother) and Joan Allen’s (Jack’s grandmother) searing performances being standouts.
The first half of the film is seriously intense. There is a consistent tension, sizzling between the innocently direct dialogue, that will have viewers emotionally invested in both the characters and the story. Room remains unapologetically suspenseful throughout, combining with its delve stating revelations to create a scathingly unsettling atmosphere. Everything is on the table during Jack and Ma’s desperate attempt at survival. The same can’t be said for the second half of the film. When emotions are meant to heighten, the film stumbles and becomes emotionally stilted. Maybe its pale delivery was an attempt to make it more acceptably cinematic, more comfortable. I don’t really know. What I do know is that the script holds back what it should have propelled forward. There’s sure to be more of an explosion of emotion from the audience, than the characters themselves.
Despite the script’s flaws, Lenny Abrahamson manages to portray these characters with sincerity, illuminating the toughest moments of this harrowing story. His efforts are reflected wholeheartedly in the ending scene, when Room is finally seen for what it truly is: not an endless world as previously portrayed, not the home Jack knew from the day he was born, but simply a sickeningly enclosed prison. This revelation, to Jack, and even his Ma, is enough of an achievement in itself to make it one of the worthiest films of recent.