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4 out of 5 stars

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


Time Out says

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.

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 15 January 2016
  • Duration:118 mins

Cast and crew

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