Lenny Abrahamson’s film about a mother and son locked in a single room by their captor ‘Old Nick’ has amassed four Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe for its leading actress Brie Larson. Based on Emma Donoghue’s critically acclaimed novel Room, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2010, it benefits from an intricate adaptation by Donoghue herself.

Room Brie Larson

Although Room resembles the real life case of Austrian abuser Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a basement and fathered seven children with her over a period of twenty-four years, it’s not the claustrophobic horror film audiences might expect. Instead Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did) focusses his attention on the bond between mother and son. We see the room itself through five year old Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) imaginative lens. Born in captivity, ‘room’ is all he knows. TV planets, fairy stories and the clouds he glimpses through a meagre sky light confuse magic and reality.

Room’s compact setting has a staggering effect on the subtext: themes of parenthood, guilt, time and space are magnified by its troubling pressure cooker. Abrahamson’s dexterity with point of view builds an astonishingly complex picture of life inside ‘room’. Jack’s Ma (Brie Larson) is a stronghold of warm, protective, maternal qualities fused with frustration and fear.

Given it’s bleak subject matter, it’s surprising that Room possesses such a hopeful atmosphere provided by childhood fancies and thoughts of escape. While Room is more drama than thriller, its ability to provoke emotion and adrenaline make it a persuasive and poignant Oscar contender.


VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5


Certificate: 15
Running time: 118 minutes

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