Room

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(31user reviews)
Room

Brie Larson is harrowing as a young mother abducted and trapped in a shed for years

The full picture emerges slowly in ‘Room’, Lenny Abrahamson’s powerful, sensitive survival drama. Details arrive like the droplets of rain that fall on the skylight of the shed in which a mother and child are locked. But it’s clear from the start that Joy (Brie Larson) and her young son Jack (spookily good newcomer Jacob Tremblay), are forcibly confined within the grey concrete walls of their grim enclosure.

For exercise, Jack runs back and forth between two walls. For food, a man they call Old Nick delivers essentials when he stops by to rape Joy at night. The mother and son’s inevitable escape makes for a harrowing sequence that exemplifies both the best of Larson’s raw-nerve performance and the worst of Abrahamson’s technique, fumbling between zooms and slow motion. ‘Room’ only blossoms into something special after it explodes into the world beyond the shed.

Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own 2010 novel, the film reveals its layers when Joy is reunited with her stunned parents (played by Joan Allen and William H Macy), who divorced after her abduction. Obliged to resume her role as a daughter, Joy struggles to reconcile returning to real life with the challenge of introducing her son to it. Larson’s ability to articulate the excruciating limbo of being suspended between two generations really is a thing to behold.

If Abrahamson were as gifted with a camera as he is with his cast, ‘Room’ could have been truly worthy of its astonishing performances. As it stands, the film is still a heart-rending exploration of the worlds that parents create with their kids.

Posted:

Release details

Release date:
Friday January 15 2016
Duration:
118 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Lenny Abrahamson
Screenwriter:
Emma Donoghue
Cast:
Brie Larson
Jacob Tremblay
Joan Allen
William H. Macy

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:20
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|31
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1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Room is truly an amazing film.The story was really touching and Abrahamson did a great job in turning it into a movie and show beauty in such a dark plot. The performances of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay were amazing, both of them seem to have a bright future in the industry. I couldn't stop crying throughout the film, which had a duration of 2 hours but keeps your interest the whole time and makes you rethink a lot about the world, human relationships and life. Definitely a must see film.

Tastemaker

Yes, it's very manipulative, and yes, it's very hard to watch, but the performances by Brie Larson and especially Jacob Tremblay demonstrate why acting is an art. I did spend the first half of the film wondering why Larson's character couldn't escape from that shed, given that it was above ground and had a seemingly reachable skylight if she had piled up the furniture (ok, so I think too literally), but watching this particular world and the wider one through Tremblay's character's eyes made me appreciate how we consciously and unconsciously process our environments. All of the actors except William H Macy (as usual) disappear into their roles, giving the film the feeling of a documentary. Just don't watch it when you're feeling claustrophobic. 

Staff Writer

Controversially, I did not like this film, and that's okay. I didn't like the book either. That may sound callous but I think I've watched too many documentaries, read too many books and news articles to find this truly engaging. It was shot beautifully and the performances were good but I found myself reaching for my phone to check the time and check my emails quite frequently.

tastemaker

An incredible, chilling film about a woman who has been kidnapped and locked in a room away from human interaction. The film shows how the woman deals with her reality and that of her son, born in captivity, and how they deal with consequences of trying to escape.

Tastemaker

I read this book as part of my book club and loved it. But the movie blew me away!!! Even though I was aware that the subject matter in the book was sad, I didn't feel noticeably sad while reading it because of the clever writing style. It is a beautifully written book, but is presented from the point of view of the 4 year old boy, and therefore many of the emotions and experiences feel simplified. However, the way that the movie was filmed and acted me me so much more aware of how awful this story of a mother and her son really was. I was devastated at the end! But I did love it. I would recommend first reading the book and then watching the film, but for those who aren't readers, the film on its own is magnificent.

tastemaker

I have to say I was quite disappointed with this film. I think the trailer gave too much away, and it had quite an albeit emotional - but fairly predictable storyline. I think the performances from both main characters was amazing, and chillingly realistic - but I couldn't help but feel distracted / bored throughout watching the film and found it difficult to keep engaged. It was fairly slow-paced throughout the first half, and frustrating at points. I would recommend watching it, but perhaps have lower expectations than I did.


The film starts off at a rather pedestrian pace but only really opens out & gets going when they get out and we get senses of the ways the outside world impacts on them. I came expecting a brilliant performance from Brie Larson and while it was good, no way did it deserve Best Actress. (Saiorse Ronan was robbed who was truly excellent in Brooklyn.) Jacob Tremblay as young Jack, however, was much better.

Tastemaker

An excellent, very moving adaptation of the book. The situations are horrendous, but the film manages to steer clear of melodrama.


I can understand anyone finding the whole premise of this film a bit of a turn-off. But I'd urge anyone to get beyond that and give it a shot. Yes, the story is harrowing, but it's also full of love and warmth in how it look at the mother-son relationship. And most disturbing is the later chapter of the film when the mother finds it impossible to readjust to real life (that's giving nothing away; the trailer details their escape).

Tastemaker

Having read the book, I think this film has done it great justice. It is haunting and disturbing, but surprisingly uplifting too. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are wonderful, and their close relationship dominates the film, much more than the abuse they suffer. 


Even though Room is very challenging and emotionally draining to watch, it is also incredibly life-affirming and ultimately beautiful.

Tastemaker

Beautiful film. It really is edge of your seat stuff, and the acting is phenomenal. Jacob Tremblay is most definitely a rising start, and looking at his imdb he is going to be a lot more this year!

Tastemaker

Eerily real performances from Brie Larson and new talent Jacob Tremblay turn this tight-knit drama into an emotional slip and slide. Tremblay in particular is magnificent, possibly displaying the most nuanced and honest acting of any child on screen this side of the millennium. His portrayal of a cloistered five year old boy, whose only company all his life has been his mother, is both heart wrenching and inspirational. Life seems so much more precious when seen through his young, innocent eyes. But there is damage there too, as there would be if you and your mother were held prisoner in a windowless shed for half a decade by a kidnapping rapist. At least the thing has a skylight though. Still, that's not enough Vitamin D for a growing lad, and the unstable captor's unwillingness to buy them vitamins makes for a grim situation indeed. 


Brie Larson should without doubt get the best actress Oscar. She gives a quiet but deeply moving performance. The tragedy of their situation is conveyed through subtle expression - a  sorrowful glance here, a pained look there - as she fully embodies the role of a traumatised young woman struggling against her chains to be a protective, loving parent to her son, her only attachment in their dismally cramped Room world. 


Room is a still, contemplative film for much of the time, and when the pace picks up its like being ripped away from a nightmare into consciousness only to find yourself free falling towards the ground a mile below. Real heart in mouth stuff. Lenny Abrahamson's last movie, Frank, was a quirky adventure with serious undertones about mental health disorders, the fleetingness of life, and all of the gifts and creature comforts we take for granted. Room is the opposite - serious and hard hitting on all counts, with moments of oddity and joyousness to save you from the Fritzl-esque pit of despair that would otherwise engulf you. 

Tastemaker

It's taken me a good 24 hours to be able to write a review of 'Room', having seen it yesterday and been left literally dumbstruck at the end. Listening to a podcast interview with director Lenny Abrahamson last week, I was affected by how much he emphasised that this was not a film about abuse or kidnapping but rather it was about the relationship & the love between a boy and his mother. That said and having never read the book, I wasn't sure what to expect so it was with a certain amount of curiosity and trepidation that I sat down to watch it.


It was quite honestly wonderful. It wasn't just that the performances were so brilliant – Brie Larson and newcomer Jacob Tremblay are searingly, heartbreakingly good while Joan Allen & William H. Macy portray the difficulties of being the parents left behind with all the honesty and raw, ugly truth you would expect from actors of their calibre – and it's not just that the direction was so real – I never, ever felt that this was a film designed to win awards or manipulate my emotions – and it's not just that every scene was beautifully scored by Stephen Rennicks whose control allowed the story to shine through but with an added layer of intensity; it's all of that and more. 


There are moments that seem almost overwhelming in their intensity; the first moments in the outside world, the touch of a real dog, the understanding that everyone else carried on with a normal life, the shared bond over breakfast cereal but everything feels so natural and unforced that the film carries you gently through them.


Two thirds of the way through as I wiped tears from my face and not for the first time, I remember thinking with some despair that there was such pure evil in the world and then I was reminded that for every ounce of that evil, there is also pure & true & honest love that will always triumph over it. I came out of the screening exhausted yes, and shell-shocked and with a headache and unwilling to engage in the usual post film chatter but also hopeful and uplifted in the thought that bad things don't have to define you or your life. They don't have to be everything about you and actually, if you have someone who loves you more than anything else on this earth, you might not ever even have to know they were bad. Tremblay's Jack plaintively asks at one point if they can go back to Room because to him that was home and that was normality, and that is entirely down to the love his mother surrounded him with. 


If you're afraid to see this film, face your fear, buy a ticket and go alone to sit at the back or go with someone you love and hold their hand; in a world that often seems overloaded & obsessed with showing us the very worst of people, it's good and it's important to sometimes be reminded of the very opposite.


Tastemaker

I was really looking forward to seeing this, the novel was one that I found really striking and that had stayed with me. I wasn't disappointed. The film captured the sinister, disturbing & emotionally conflicting essence of the story. The performances are amazing.

Choosing what to show, how much of the story to tell explicitly, how to portray the deep and impossible issues faced by the central characters took very fine judgment and was in my view perfectly judged. I did find it a bit slow and laboured in parts but can't think how that could be altered and keep it fictional account rather than a documentary. Interestingly, one of my companions didn't enjoy it all, finding it v difficult to connect with and the central child narration irritating.


A very very difficult watch,due to the terrible sadness of the whole event..The little boy is by some way the best actor in the film,eclipsing Brie Larson..An astonishing performance that is not nominated for a best actor award..A must see film,but only on a day you feel emotionally strong..5 stars

Tastemaker

This is touching and thought provoking film that really moved me. Based on true events about the uncomfortable subject of abduction of Joy, here you are thrown into her world where you discover she is held captive in the ‘Room’ with her now five year old son Jack. Throughout the earlier parts of the movie you can see how determined she is to instill a great sense of normality in Jack’s life despite their less than ideal circumstances. There is a great theme of the power of belief and strength that stays with you throughout. You really get to see that she does everything to protect her son whenever possible and relationship between these two is something really special. The narrations and heart warming observations by Jack are particular poignant and reminds us to appreciate the simple things in life and makes us remember the things that we are all guilty of taking for granted in the world. Witnessing Jack’s release into the ‘outside world’ you get to observe his initial taste of freedom and experience first hand the outside world as such a vast place through innocent eyes. It was so refreshing to get see how the psychological impact of this ordeal had on the family especially Joy and Jack in the aftermath as this is so rarely covered in similar movies. Joy battles with herself thinking whether or not she did the right thing and Jack struggles with integration within everyday society. Such a great film and so superbly acted, it will bring a tear to your eye that’s for sure and will stay with you for a very long time.

Staff Writer

A really remarkable set of performances combine to make this film harrowing on all sorts of levels you just don't see coming. It's a really compelling watch across both of its halves – their quiet, loving and intensely sad little life in Room is only the beginning of Joy and Jack's troubles and Brie Larson communicates more about her character than you'd think possible. Also keep an eye out for William H Macy being completely amazing, as usual.


I was so excited for the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue's incredible book and I wasn't disappointed when I saw it last week at a Time Out Card preview screening. I could not believe the quality of acting from the boy playing Jack (Jacob Tremblay). He absolutely blew me away. Brie Larson also gave an Oscar-worthy performance as Joy. 


I found it slightly less harrowing than the book, but so compelling and really moving. Definitely worth a watch!





I really loved this harrowing yet uplifting book when I read it about 5-6 years ago, and so was a bit apprehensive when I went to see this film, especially considering that the book is from the perspective of the 5 year old boy. However, the film did not let down my expectations - it was so true to the book - I think it helped that Emma Donaghue (author) also wrote the screenplay, and was one of the producers.

Jacob Tremblay was truly sensational as the young boy, Jack, and Brie Larson gave a wonderfully emotional performance as Joy.

It truly is a real must-see. If they aren't inundated with awards, I will be very disappointed.

Ps. I watched this over 5 days ago, and I still find myself spending time thinking about it every day!

Tastemaker

Brilliant film with amazing moving performances. Be prepared to get emotional. Definitely a five star film and really worth seeing.


Amazing film with outstanding performances. The story being told by the child's point of view makes it even more compelling. Very emotional, enjoyable and definitely worth seeing.


I was so emotionally wrought after watching this film, I stood on the left on the escalator. It deserves every award in existence.

Tastemaker

All I can really say is ‘wow’.  This film is fantastic and really gripping.  The performances of the actors playing Joy and Jack are phenomenal and it’s easy to see why Brie Larson is a favourite for the Best Actress Oscar - it’s a shame that Jacob Tremblay doesn’t appear to be a contender for the Best Actor Oscar though and maybe his young age is counting against him.  The film is extremely emotional so be warned if you are a crier!


Truly amazing. Gorgeous, moving, dark but extremely subtle. Actors are brilliant too. Don't watch the trailer, just read the synopsis for a perfect immersion and more suspense.


A very disturbing plot situation, but shines forth with courage and resolve with the love between mother and son and the ever hopeful creativity of a child’s being.

Tastemaker

A really great and moving film. The young actor, a Jacob Tremblay, is the best child actor I've seen. A compelling tale of two halves about motherhood, society and our relation to the world. 

Tastemaker

In all honesty I hate most films with children in them. Most of the time they grate on being awful creatures and annoy the heck out of me. Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has all the potential to be that child, yet, due to the unique circumstances around his growing up, I can finally say 'this kid's alright', and even has me cheering him on for most of the film.  


This is a rare film that though slow, has your eyes glued to the screen from start to end. Brie Larson is fantastic as Jack's mother, showing an uncanny strength as a mother and displays wisdom beyond her years. Lenny Abrahamson has truly done a bang-on job as director to showcase the harrowing experiences of an abductee, the true value of life and the impenetrable relationship between a mother and child. There are some amazingly emotional moments throughout the film where you can't help but smile, and both mother and son easily find their way into viewers' hearts as identifiable protagonists to root for.


For the sensitive ones out there, trigger warnings of rape and women in distress abound. It's never graphic, but the first half of the film still left me deeply unsettled, especially since it's told from Jack's point of view. But at the end of the film, I walked out of the cinema with a renewed sense of life and a lighter step in my walk. Hopefully we see even more of Brie Larson's amazing performances onscreen in future!


A rare case of a film improving on the book. Emma Donoghue has adapted her own book and used it to address some of the narration problems in the book. This is a gripping film with great performances by Brie Larson and an amazing Jacob Tremblay.

Tastemaker

Room deservedly won the People's Choice Award at this year's Toronto Film Festival, up against some extremely tough competition. I'd read and enjoyed the book a few years ago, so I was familiar with the story, and Emma Donoghue the author thankfully also adapted the screenplay, keeping it faithful to the novel.


Room is about a woman and her son who are held captive in a shed in a man's garden, and their desperate attempts to escape. The story is told mostly from the point of view of the 5-year old son, Jack, played by the incredible Jacob Tremblay. Brie Larson is equally as good as the mother, and I'm sure we'll be seeing much more of her in the years to come. The relationship they display on screen is breathtaking, the script magnificent, and the whole package is put together beautifully, making it easily my film of the year so far in 2015. 


It is feels so satisfying when a film doesn't have the huge Hollywood budget, action sequences and visual effects, and yet you walk out having had a very enjoyable, and surprising cinema experience. Well done to everyone behind this excellent film.