Alexandra Bolda’s review published on Letterboxd:
3. Room, 2015
The story of Room is one that is both chilling and absolutely nightmarish. The audience is held captive from the start as we see Jake (Jake Tremblay) and Ma's (Brie Larson) unfulfilling life in Room, and are immediately sympathetic when we see Jake's ignorance to the world, and also to the banality of their lives.
Lenny Abrahamson has outdone himself with the casting and directing of the two leads performances. You can literally see affection radiating from the on-screen mother and son, and to watch a connection that intimate is rare. I've caught myself wondering whether or not Larson and Tremblay keep in touch because their connection seemed that of a genuine one.
Brie Larson was incredible in this film and you can really get the sense of desperation she manages to convey - a shout out to one scene in particular where she pleads with Jake, begging for him to believe there's a life outside room. Larson really does deliver an Oscar worthy performance. However, I'm also extremely happy with Tremblay's performance, and a really big well done to Abrahamson for managing to get that performance out of him. I usually hate kids in films, they're either too smart, badly acted or don't say a word, however - a long with Larson - Tremblay carried this film. I'd really like to see a lasting career ahead of him.
I could talk for days on end about the stellar acting, but a film isn't all in the acting, there are some faults. Lenny Abrahamson fails to create the same claustrophobia that would be felt by ma, which I feel is lazy film-making due to the subject matter of the film. As well as that, the shots are basic and serve no purpose other than to establish a scene; there's no real beauty in any of the shots, sure, they're pretty enough to look at but nothing close to what they could have been. Another fault with the film is the script, and though the dialogue in the movie was beautifully written, and the moments between the two felt real, there wasn't enough enough of it in the right places to have kept me as interested as I could have been, and I feel there were a definite few missed opportunities to create a more a heart-wrenching drama: expand on Old Nick's abuse, and if we stuck to either Jake or Ma's story arc instead of jumping between the two, there would have been a more moving response from the audience.
I could talk for days on end about how well done the acting was and how harrowing the subject of kidnap is, but the fact of the matter is, that isn't enough to carry a film. Where Abrahamson done well to get stunning performances out of the two leads, he fell short on creating the same claustrophobic atmosphere nine years in an 11x11 room would do to someone. It was almost as though Abrahamson relied on the haunting story of abduction to deliver the beautiful cinematography it deserved. The shots are basic, and there wasn't enough conflict in the script to really draw out the best possible film; yes, the existing dialogue in the film was expertly done but as I've already stated, the missed opportunities in the script fail to pull on the viewers heartstrings.
If I weren't such a fan of the phenomenal acting, I'd have probably only rated this feature 2.5/5, or 3/5 if I were feeling generous. Undoubtedly, both Larson and Tremblay need awards for this role.