Teen abduction film is raw and real

What It’s About

The emotional rollercoaster that is “Room” shows us the human toll of evil as well as the wonders of the world through a child’s eyes.

Adapted from her own 2010 book, Emma Donoghue’s broadened screenplay about a young woman and her son born in captivity could have been taken from today’s headlines.

Sensitively directed by Lenny Abrahamson (“Frank”), the film is raw and real. Teenage abductions are shocking examples of monsters lurking in ordinary neighborhoods.

At 17, Joy (Brie Larson) was grabbed by a pervert she calls Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), and kept as a sex slave in a backyard garden shed. The movie begins seven years later, when her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) turns 5.

The small space is the only home he’s ever known, and as nurturing as Ma is, she withholds information about what’s outside in order to cope. Now that he’s older, she hatches a plan to escape.

What happens afterward isn’t exactly happily ever after. Joy’s psyche is too damaged and Jack’s adjustment to regular childhood is not smooth. But as they make their way in this new normal, their bond is so strong that their journey is ultimately one of grace and redemption.

As harrowing and gut-wrenching as “Room” is, there are moments of tender, pure love that make this film an unforgettable experience. I was a puddle of goo midway.


We are drawn into this difficult material because of the emotional depth of the acting, some of the best of the year.

Larson (“Short Term 12”) will be nominated for every yearend award, for the remarkable range she displays as the loving mom who survived hellish confinement. She digs deep so we can understand her character.

The young Tremblay delivers one of the most extraordinary child performances ever on screen, convincing as a brave, curious and smart boy looking at the world through fresh eyes.

Together, their mother-and-son relationship is natural and endearing.

The gifted Joan Allen (“The Contender”) conveys a myriad of feelings with subtle looks. She plays Joy’s Mom, who welcomes her daughter and grandson into the family home.

In the small but pivotal role of Joy’s dad, William H. Macy (“Shameless”) is barely on screen.

What Works

The tension is nerve-wracking and truthful. We root for the pair to find peace. Do not underestimate the power of the maternal bond.

4 stars out of 4

  • Director: Lenny Abrahamson
  • Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers
  • Rated: R for language
  • Length: 1:58