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Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, William H Macy, Sean Bridgers, Megan Park

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Little-known actress Larson lands a gift of a part in this emotional blitz as a girl who, snatched at 17 and pregnant by her captor (Bridgers) at 19, has spent seven years in Room, in reality a large garden shed in the grounds of the kidnapper's home, to which she is securely confined.

Her son, Jack (Tremblay, long-haired and wide-eyed), has been home-schooled by his mother to the best of her ability, and knows no other world but Room, which has a bath, toilet, cupboard, table and bed.

When the kidnapper moves in at night to have sex with 'Ma', Jack sleeps (or not) in the cupboard. Escape? Apparently, there has been one failed attempt using the top of the cistern as a weapon, but you wonder why Ma doesn't use the knife she's allowed, in order to cut up food.

While we wonder about the mentality of such a man, the film is bone-crunchingly effective in conveying the quiet horror of the girl's plight. But this section of the film only lasts an hour, although in a way the movie should just be about life in Room and the final effort to escape from it.

It's not that the second half is less successful, just less necessary, as Ma returns home to face a new set of problems, with her parents (Allen, Macy) separated following her disappearance, and a new stepfather (McCamus) in situ.

Larson really lives her role, though, just one great performance in a year full of them, while the films that showcase them have sometimes shone a lesser light.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour (unspecified).
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Jan 2016