After receiving the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, “Room” is now gaining momentum among critics who say it’s a serious awards contender, buoyed especially by the performances of Brie Larson and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay.
TheWrap film critic Inkoo Kang said that the story of a mother and her 5-year-old son held captive in a 10-by-10 room is “an important exploration of post-traumatic suffering and resilience.” And most other critics agree: Director Lenny Abrahamson exhibits an “empathy for altered and extreme realities” and Larson “summons fierce maternal devotion and an exposed-nerve desperation.”
Abrahamson, according to critics, adapted Emma Donoghue‘s critically-acclaimed novel beautifully with a stellar cast that put themselves into moods uniquely appropriate for each scene. Donoghue even praised Abrahamson for being the perfect director for the film in an exclusive video released to TheWrap.
See 10 of the best reviews below, which have awarded the film a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:
“But what Abrahamson brings to the table is a delicate touch, a gift for psychological mood and an empathy for altered and extreme realities, all of which allow him to get the full measure of this film’s wide-ranging emotions. He and his exceptional collaborators turn ‘Room’ from the film no one wants to see to the one everyone will have to experience.”
Joe Morgenstern, Washington Post:
“Ms. Larson and young Jacob Tremblay … transcend all traces of artifice. That’s easier to understand in the boy’s case; he’s young, his responses are pure, and his director, Mr. Abrahamson, has succeeded quite remarkably in preserving the purity. Ms. Larson, though, has been practicing — indeed perfecting — her craft since she herself was a child. Yet her character seems to have been caught on the fly, rather than performed. Whatever mode this Ma is in — loving, joking, imagining, protecting, scheming or loathing in the darkest depths of her soul — she is entirely, even shockingly, Room’s creature.”
Andrew Lapin, NPR:
“‘Abrahamson has the ideal partner in his lead actress, who owns every bit of the film’s emotional power. Brie Larson taps reservoirs not by showing what she’s feeling, but by the opposite: hiding those feelings from her son. Anyone who saw her astounding work in ‘Short Term 12,’ where she also knew the value of withholding herself from observers, won’t be surprised by the caliber of her deeply internalized performance here. Tremblay, as Jack, has the delicate whispers and practiced vulnerability the film demands of him, though not much more.”
Noel Murray, A.V. Club:
“One of the reasons for ‘Room’s’ bifurcated structure is that Donoghue and Abrahamson are to some extent debunking the idea of a ‘happily ever after.’ What makes the film so effective — and at times so beautiful — is that it’s painfully aware of how time passes and things change. Back in their prison, when Jack (Tremblay) rebels against Joy (Larson) being honest about what’s really happening, she shushes him with the line, ‘This is the story you get.’ ‘Room’ should hit home with everyone who worries about how to tell the generation behind them what lies ahead — especially when we can’t always see what’s in front of ourselves.”
Rex Reed, New York Observer:
“Too grim and heartbreaking for some viewers, ‘Room’ is nevertheless an extraordinary film so powerful and unforgettable that it must be seen … This is a devastating study of incarceration, survival, escape and rehabilitation as harrowing as today’s headlines and as suspenseful as the most knuckle-gnawing thriller I’ve ever seen. When it was unveiled at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival, the standing ovation lasted almost 10 minutes.”
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:
“Larson, who was so affecting in 2013’s ‘Short Term 12,’ summons fierce maternal devotion and an exposed-nerve desperation. And Tremblay, an expressive long-haired moppet, is one of the rare kid actors who can convey innocence and resilience without coming across as precocious. He makes you see the world through a child’s naive, trusting eyes. ‘Room’ may not be a pleasant place to spend two hours, but it’s an unsettling experience you won’t forget.”
Lou Lumenick, New York Post:
“Directed with enormous assurance by Irish director Abrahamson (‘Frank’), ‘Room’ is a one-of-a-kind, must-see experience — and not entirely a pleasant one. But see it you must for the Oscar-caliber Larson and young Tremblay, whose remarkable mother-and-child bond is nothing sort of astonishing to watch.”
Kevin Lally, Film Journal International:
“Beautifully rendered and acted drama about a young captive and her remarkable bond with the child she bore while held prisoner is a potent award-season contender.”
Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net:
“‘Room’ is a glorious experience that transcends its simple dramatic premise. It’s one of the best and most effective films of the year, and you would have to be fairly heartless not to be moved by it.”
Scott Mendelson, Forbes:
“The film has something of an emotional climax, but it doesn’t pretend that all wounds are healed or will ever be healed … Like ’12 Years A Slave,’ ‘Room’ is not content to merely be a defining version of its horrifying narrative, but rather a specific and nuanced story that uses its unthinkable scenario to tell an individual story. ‘Room’ becomes something specific and something genuinely powerful. ‘Room’ is a frankly terrific picture and one of the most wrenching and rewarding offerings of the year.”