• 2015
  • Ireland / Canada
  • 1h 58min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
  • Written by: Emma Donoghue
  • Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
  • UK release: 15 January 2016

Joy, known as Ma (Larson), has been held captive in a shed for seven years by a man referred to as Old Nick (Bridgers). Her five year old son Jack (Tremblay) has never known anywhere else. Their journey to freedom is gripping and emotionally fraught, and Tremblay and Larson are excellent.

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Based on the 2010 novel by Canadian author Emma Donoghue which was itself based on the appalling story ofAustrian Josef Frtizl who kept his daughter in a basement for 24 years. Here the story centres on really two characters, the boy Jack and his mother, similarly imprisoned by a character called ‘Old Nick’. They escape into a world that seems almost as strange and threatening as the room they have just left. What makes the film memorable and even uplifting are the insights into human behaviour displayed in the young boy’s narration – and of course in the extraordinary performances of Brie Larson as the mother and 8 year old Jacob Tremblay as the boy. A grim subject but wonderfully handled.

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Reviews & features


9 Oct 20154 stars

LFF 2015: Emma Donoghue's bestseller transfers triumphantly to screen

Leonard Cohen once sang, ‘There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’ For Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) her ray of hope comes through the skylight in the shed where she has been held captive for seven years by a man referred to…

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