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This Irish film inspired by the Josef Fritzl case is getting rave reviews

It was written by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

A24 / YouTube

IRISH AUTHOR EMMA Donoghue’s book Room was an almost instant hit when it was released in 2010.

Many saw echoes of the Joseph Fritzl case – where an Austrian man kept his daughter imprisoned in a basement for 24 years – in the novel. Room tells the story of a young mum and her five-year-old son Jack, with their tale of hell and rescue being narrated by the plucky and curious young boy.

The book was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and sold millions of copies. In 2013, news broke that director Lenny Abrahmanson (What Richard Did, Frank), was to direct a film adaptation of Room, with the script penned by Donoghue.

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At the time, Abrahamson described the book as:

Deeply original, harrowing, full of moments of almost unbearable tension, but also – and this is what is so special about it – profoundly life-affirming.

American actress Brie Larson was cast as the mum (‘Ma’), and Jacob Tremblay as long-haired Jack.

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It had its premiere at film festival Telluride in Colorado earlier this week, and the great reviews were soon pouring in:


a suspenseful and heartrending drama that finds perhaps the most extreme possible metaphor for how time, regret and the end of childhood can make unknowing captives of us all.


Featuring astonishing performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, Room also has the most tense elongated sequence that I’ve seen in a theater since Josh Brolin’s river escape in No Country for Old MenRoom made me grip my seat, cover my mouth, hold my breath, and I damn near shouted at the screen. The tension is expert. And the drama that follows is truthful.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Strong performances by Larson and young Jacob Tremblay as a mother and son held captive for years, as well as the book’s reputation, will provide a certain art house draw, more among female viewers than with men. But the claustrophobic and upsetting nature of the material will be a disincentive to many.

In The Guardian, audience-goers at Telluride spoke about their reaction to the screening. One child psychologist said it was a “compelling” film, while another singled out the “heartwarming” mother and child relationship.


Room wasn’t the only Irish film that premiered at Telluride: Viva, directed by Paddy Breathnach – about a Cuban teen who becomes a drag queen – was also received well.

The Guardian praised the film’s strong performances and depiction of Havana, while IndieWire said that Breathnach made a “tender debut that may seem familiar, but still does the trick”.

Room is released in October – so there’s still time to read the fantastic book it’s based on.

Read: There’s a big-screen version of chilling Irish novel inspired by crimes of Josef Fritzl>

Read: Lenny Abrahamson to direct film adaptation of bestselling novel Room>

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