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Captured when she was a teenager by a sexual predator, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) has been living helplessly for years in a fortified, soundproof shed in the backyard of her captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). As a result of her abuse, she’s given birth to a son named Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a shining ray of hope (and sometimes frustration) in her life.

Shortly after Jack’s fifth birthday, Joy becomes even more desperate to escape her captor and introduce her sheltered, intellectually and emotionally stunted boy to the world outside their room. After their successful, harrowing escape, Joy returns home to her mother (Joan Allen) and stepfather (Tom McCamus), and the often gut-wrenching healing process begins for the family.

Based on the stylistically offbeat bestseller from Emma Donoghue, Room tackles often brutal and scarring subject material with tenderness and empathy that disarms, shaking viewers to their core for almost two hours. It’s an emotionally brutalizing and appropriately traumatic depiction of captivity and post-traumatic stress, one told with a great amount of hope and warmth, despite its dark exterior.

It’s also the latest film from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, who gets better with each endeavour. He’s a subtle filmmaker, more concerned with the beats of everyday life than storytelling conventions. He also couldn’t have asked for two better leads. Larson makes a case for being our generation’s next great actor, but the film often belongs to her younger counterpart, Tremblay.

When one considers the enormity and complexity of what Tremblay had to accomplish in playing Jack, it’s easy to see it as a star-making performance.