(Ireland, Canada, 2015, 118 mins, DCP)
CAST Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H Macy
EXEC Andrew Lowe, Emma Donoghue, Jesse Shapira, Jeff Arkuss, David Kosse, Rose Garnett, Tessa Ross
PROD Ed Guiney, David Gross
SCR Emma Donoghue
CAM Danny Cohen
ED Nathan Nugent
PROD DES Ethan Tobman
MUS Stephen Rennicks
PROD CO Element Pictures / No Trace Camping
Awards: People’s Choice Award, Toronto 15


Based on the best-selling Man Booker Prize-nominated novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue (she also wrote the screenplay), this is the story of five-year-old Jack, who lives in an 11-by-11-foot room with his mother. Since it’s all he’s ever known, Jack believes that only "Room" and the things it contains (including himself and Ma) are real. Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has never stepped foot outside of this tiny shed he shares with Ma (Brie Larson) because it’s a prison built for them by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), their kidnapper.  Although based on the shocking case of an Austrian father who enslaved his own daughter and had children by her, all entirely captive, the novel and this film dispense with brutality in favour of imagination, and immense sympathy and sensitivity. Despite such a life, Ma refuses to let her son suffer from the truth, concocting an elaborate fantasy that would have him believe that theirs is the only world that exists and that nothing lies beyond the shed’s walls. When Jack’s finally ready to take part in a dramatic escape, Ma must explain, and they both must act, soon finding themselves in an overwhelming outside world that, ironically, is perhaps more terrifying than the prison they’ve abandoned.

Having depicted an avant-garde band beset by cabin fever in last year’s Frank, Lenny Abrahamson again proves that he works exceedingly well in confined spaces, demonstrating that his command of tone has only grown more assured. Abrahamson commands note perfect performances from his cast, with the exceptional Larsen making maternal measures that should rightfully strain credulity seem entirely credible. But the true star here is Tremblay.

In turns disturbing and awe-inspiring, Room proves to be very much like its namesake: remarkably difficult to leave behind.

"Lenny Abrahamson seamlessly translates Donoghue’s work into cinematic terms with his relentlessly compelling adaptation… Combining a simplistic trajectory with an unshakably creepy aura, the movie leaves the impression that it has more to offer than mere thrills. Despite the plot’s extraordinary circumstances, Room tracks the process of coming to grips with the larger world in universal terms."—Eric Kohn, Indiewire

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