There are some tough topics out there that, if not given the adequate amount of tender, love and care could turn into a disaster of a movie waiting to happen. Thankfully, this is not the case with Room, a film that balances a difficult and scary situation with a fantastic emotional core and characters with depth. Riveting and authentic, the performances and story will grab you by the heartstrings.

5-year-old Jack (newcomer Jacob Tremblay) is absolutely sure of two things: 1) that his Ma (Brie Larson, The United States of TaraShort Term 12) loves him, and 2) that his world exists only in an enclosed space his mother has dubbed Room. There may not be a lot of things that you can feel for more than an innocent child whose exuberance and enthusiasm is still in existence even though you know the situation he is in is dire. Ma does her best to shield Jack from their reality: Ma was kidnapped and raped and they’re still being held captive by a man Jack knows only as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). But as Jack becomes more curious about their situation inside Room–he isn’t aware that there’s a world outside–Ma finds it harder to keep up appearances. And so she concocts a plan of escape only for Jack to be face the scariest place he’s ever been: the outside world.

Director Leonard Abrahamson (Frank) brings to life a very realistic scenario and is sure to keep the focus primarily on Jack, his relationship with his mother and the new experiences he has. The film flows from one scene to another as though you have been with these characters for a very long time. The intimate setting allows you to enter their emotionally precarious world and latch onto them as people, the outcome being a devastating roller coaster of sentimentality with a borderline of intense hope.

It’s exceptionally hard for any body of work to maintain the point of view and voice of someone as young as Jack, but Emma Donoghue, writer of both the screenplay and novel of the same name, does this to great and distinguished effect. Jack is exactly how you imagine any 5-year-old to be and Jacob Tremblay’s performance portrays his innocence, understanding and fear so beautifully and sincerely. Brie Larson proved that she’s more than capable of giving an emotionally raw performance, and she one-ups herself in Room. Her performance is strong and heartbreaking and deserving of recognition.

Suffice it to say that Room is a hardcore drama that deals with a lot of heavy material and themes. It isn’t particularly hard to watch as much as it is sad to see the characters go through such trauma. It’s portrayed realistically and very intimately, almost completely foregoing the outside world except where it is need to enhance the story. It cuts right to the core of you and boasts strong performances by everyone, including Joan Allen and William H. Macy as Larson’s parents. Incredibly moving and a film you won’t soon forget.

4star

Release Date: October 23, 2015 (DC area) | Director: Leonard Abrahamson | Screenwriter: Emma Donoghue | Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers, Tom McCamus | Genre: Drama | MPAA Rating: R for language

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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