Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
Emotionally rich, and sincere performances from Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay makes up for the short hiccups of Lenny Abrahamson’s misguided captive drama Room. Adapted from Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, Room is an essentially a crime story of a kidnapped young woman who was raped and gave born to a son while being locked in a small garden shed for seven years. Thank God that the film is seen through the eyes of a five year old boy, because if not, this would be just another CSI episode of captivity.
Room basically has a two-act structure. The first act that focuses on the mother-son dynamics set in the ‘Room’ is wonderful. I admire Abrahamson’s choices of making the odd, and the harrowing comfortable. I also like how the characters’ suffering are not sensationalized which is perfect. No violence is shown, which I think suits well for a film like this, most especially it’s from the perspective of a young boy. The tight atmosphere of the ‘Room’ makes it even more suffocating to watch, thus leading to a great momentum. When we enter the second act, things get a little problematic. The narrative wanders off focusing on the psychological ramifications to the mother and her son. While her son seems to be adjusting fine, the mother is not. This gives actress Brie Larson the chance to expand her range which is quite satisfying. However, the director makes a slight choice about the mother’s choices. Now Larson becomes a ‘support’ instead of ‘co-leading’ with Tremblay’s affectionate work.
Anyhow, the performances from Larson and Tremblay are one of the year’s best. Larson is wonderful conveying emotions with depth and accuracy. Her natural presence helps a lot and it works. But it’s Jacob Tremblay who really got me. Young Tremblay (Jack) literally made my eyes teary because of his unadorned sweetness and sincerity. Its Jack’s innocence makes the underlying suffering worth it. His vision of the world is infectious. His last words in the film might be the reason why the film was so well-received. Supporting actress Joan Allen is in good form, while William H. Macy feels unnecessary.
Overall, Room is a flawed, but emotionally absorbing film that like Jack makes us recognize the beauty of living in the world. Plus, with the great performances of Larson and Tremblay makes the film as one of the year’s must-sees.