Molly Parker is Oscar-worthy in the juicy role of John Hawkes' alcoholic, stylish, sexy/pathetic wife.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Standout Olivia Harris and Parker are heart-wrenching as the vitriolic mother and neglected teen daughter.
| Original Score: 3/4
The stuff with the adults is drab and stale, but the kids' scenes are excellent.
In the tradition of The Ice Storm, The Playroom revisits 1970s suburbia, when the chilly civility between husband and Stepford wife bumps up against the sexual revolution.
| Original Score: 7.4/10
Modest in scale, it's the kind of American independent film that brings some honor to that shopworn descriptor.
| Original Score: B+
Parents seek joy, ignore kids in difficult, powerful drama.
| Original Score: 4/5
A detailed, and depressing portrait of grim, forced independence. Lightened only by the sense that if these kids are learning anything, it is how to survive.
A chamber piece cousin to The Ice Storm, The Playroom hones in on the mentality of so many irresponsible '70s era parents whose children grew up to be much better people than their parents.
| Original Score: B
"The Playroom" captures the malaise of mid-'70s suburbia with a merciless accuracy not seen since Ang Lee's 1997 film, "The Ice Storm."
The Playroom jettisons all things cute, but still takes flight by portraying the characters, adult and juvenile, under direct lighting, and asking you if you care about them.
Covers its own ground with tender, sympathetic honesty that is refreshing and invigorating to watch.
Sensitively wrought family drama told from the children's perspective.
You have your basic family psychodrama, except there's no real heat either downstairs or up.
| Original Score: C-
It's a misfire from screenwriter Gretchen Dyer and director Julia Dyer, who can't connect the puzzle pieces, resulting in a movie of attentive performances working through ill-defined storytelling.
If The Ice Storm was a band, think of this as the minor-chord, label-unsigned, opening act for its opening act. Lovingly captured but dramatically inert.
| Original Score: C
A reliance on melodrama prevents a deeper and more insightful glimpse into the characters and subject matter.
The film uses the upper-middle-class setting effectively, even as it resorts to heavy-handed symbolism and melodrama in its dour, mostly unforgiving portrait of parental dysfunction.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
This imitation "Ice Storm" is as refreshing as a step into a puddle of slush.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
Between the loaded conversations and metaphors, and the phony overlay of a children's fairy tale, The Playroom can't stop telegraphing themes and interpreting itself. There's nothing left for the audience to do.
What little story there is has no sense of real life, no matter much the film pretends to be about children learning hard truths.