Jay’s review published on Letterboxd:
First thing's first; give Jacob Tremblay all the awards.
Room is the type of film that could've gone quite horrendously wrong in the hands of a different director. Indeed, in the hands of a better and more adventurous director than Lenny Abrahamson it could've been a total clusterfuck. Here, however, his cautious but heartfelt and thoughtful approach to a very difficult subject matter, which he litters with sweet comic touches and just the right amount of twee sentimentality, works wonders as this harrowing but ultimately life-affirming story unfolds on the screen before us.
Room comes at its narrative from all angles. We examine what it's like for a child, through whose eyes we see the majority of the drama, to discover the world for the very first time, for a woman to return to the world after seven years in captivity and discover that things aren't quite as she remembered them, for the people who lost someone they loved and compartmentalised their grief only to then discover that it was all for nothing and, more broadly, for society-at-large to process and imagine the horror that one human can inflict upon another.
It's also a film about entrapment on both a physical and spiritual level, where characters are trapped by their past, trapped by their nightmares and, perhaps most devastatingly of all, trapped by freedom. It is here where Abrahamson's direction is at its most powerful. He is at once able to find the claustrophobia in every location and make the smallest room feel like the grandest home. "Room" isn't just a location, it's a living, breathing structure in which the lives of these two characters are etched into every surface, and one that subsumes the viewer.
With this in mind, the occasional misstep is forgiveable. The film tries to juggle a maelstrom of conflicting emotions and, despite a few muddles along the way, for the most part it does so valiantly. Abrahamson, alongside writer Emma Donaghue who does a stellar job of finding the purest humanity within the inhumanity, makes his characters come to life and grants them a purpose to keep on surviving. He doesn't drill down on one particular aspect of the drama, rather he trusts his audience to empathise with these richly-drawn characters and experience their own emotions.
Sure, the music is cranked up a bit too loud now and then, and there are a few scenes that are clearly designed to get tears from a stone, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter. Room is a beautiful and thought-provoking film that delivers drama and emotion by the bucketload. It isn't false, nor is it "oscar-bait" (whatever the fuck that ever means). It's simply powerful filmmaking of a somewhat generic but ultimately delightful kind, with two powerhouse performances from the leads to boot.