Room ★★½

Room is a fine film. It is well-made; well-structured and well-acted. It is just a little safe. Like Lenny Abrahamson's other films, Frank and What Richard Did, it is a film with high highs, but some really dull lows. The film has a pacing problem. Like Frank it drags, too often to be considered great.

Abrahamson makes the decision to focus on the story of the film through the child's eyes, removing the audience from story, frustrating the audience. It is an interesting move, but one that ultimately undoes the film, because it just made my attention wander. Especially when the film sidelines the great Brie Larson for a large part of the second half of the film, it is like he sidelines the trauma, in favour of messing about with lego. It really softens the horror and weakens the film. His motives in sidelining the female lead just felt suspect.

Room has a sugary score that Abrahamson employs at every turn, and an eye-rolling voice-over from the kid. The final lines of the film are obvious from the opening scene. It is absolutely predictable material, if you have seen the trailer, which does the whole film in about 2 minutes. As well, and short.

However, Room does have some things to recommend. It has an impressive turn from Brie Larson, who manages to act against Jacob Tremblay, and offset his cloying delivery. Larson has a great command of the screen, subtle mannerism, that even in the terribly misjudged third act work well. The film has a few really intense sequences, that are really thrilling; while there are some truly emotionally affecting moments. Though, the film is way-to-willing to go sentimental, to try and make you cry. It would have worked better emotionally, with an iota of sentimental restraint, or a few degrees more grit.

It is easy to get tears from an audience. It is tougher to make a film that deserves said tears.

I just felt that the film was soft. It needed to be less of a Hollywood independent, and more forthright, more bold. It glanced over the horror, softened the trauma, and shielded its viewers. It is one for grandparents, with a cup of tea, and Sunday night on BBC1.


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