The Playroom - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Playroom Reviews

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February 26, 2015
Hard to watch because of it's honest portrayal
Super Reviewer
July 24, 2014
Some teenagers imagine losing their virginity as a romantic rite of passage. And then there is Maggie(Olivia Harris) who just wants to get it over with her boyfriend Ryan(Cody Linley) in the family garage. Even that does not go as planned, as her mother(Molly Parker) soon arrives home, followed by her father(John Hawkes), a lawyer. And eventually the neighbors(Lydia Mackay & Jonathan Brooks).

For the record, we have been here before plenty of times. Specifically, 1975 when parents were behaving badly and children were left to pick up the pieces.(Actually, Molly Parker was also already, in the late lamented television series "Swingtown" which covered a lot of the same ground.) And then there is the fact that the filmmakers seem to be using the film solely to work out some long festering parental issues here.(To be honest, if I had four kids, I would drink heavily, snort cocaine, inject heroin...oh you get the drill. Just be thankful I'm never having kids.)

But beneath all of those tired cliches, "The Playroom" gets right how in larger families older kids take care of the younger ones. Plus, the movie is artfully constructed with a neat use of camera and voiceovers to give a dreamy effect to the proceedings. And each in their own way Molly Parker and John Hawkes are both excellent but you knew that already.
December 14, 2013
One line summary: Teen daughter takes care of three younger siblings while alcoholic parents ignore them.


Martin and Molly Cantwell have four children, Maggie, Ryan, Sam, and Janie. The parents are alcoholic, and mostly absentee. Maggie serves as surrogate mother. She and the younger children often cleanup after the mess that the parents leave behind (cigarette butts, drinks glasses, random clothing, and so on).

It's the era of the Patty Hearst kidnapping, when cigarettes were still popular and considered socially acceptable. Partner swapping seemed to be OK as well. After stealing yet another of her mother's birth control pills, Maggie observes he mother being kissed and fondled by the man of a couple visiting to play bridge.

Several drinks later, the parents do not notice that the older boy has fallen off the roof. Maggie does the required first aid. More drinks later, the parents and the guests openly discuss Donna's infidelity with Clark. Nadia and Martin are taken aback and depressed, respectively, and the friendship of the couples takes a hit.

Throughout the film, the four children weave stories in the attic as a defense against the ugly realities. They are constructing a rather nice one when Martin asks Maggie to come downstairs. Maggie reveals that Molly is pregnant by Clark, and the adults erupt. Maggie screams to get the to avoid bloodshed.

Will anyone find a path out of this real and deep mess?


Cinematography: 10/10 Professionally done.

Sound: 10/10 No problems.

Acting: 8/10 Olivia Harris was excellent as Maggie. The child actors were fairly good, and I liked John Hawkes' performance.

Screenplay: 7/10 There were so many cuts that the film seemed awfully choppy.
August 20, 2013
Weird. Very weird. Also, I think that was the mom from the TV show where the men were pilots and everyone was swingers. Can the woman only play one role?
August 17, 2013
I didn't really get this movie; just about a disfunctional family in the 70's.
August 7, 2013
1/5 There was some good acting, but good acting of pointless crap is a crime.
July 31, 2013
Reminiscent of the Ice Storm. A disturbing tale of parental selfishness and the unintended neglect of the children that results.
July 28, 2013
Really intense film. A lot of drama between the parents unfolds into a pretty jaw dropping outcome. The kids are of course dragged through it. Sad feelings.
July 24, 2013
What initially attracted me to this film was the fact that one of my favorite actors, John Hawkes, was in it. I was a little disappointed because he played a straight role, but ultimately he performed well which should not surprise anyone. "The Playroom" provides a brave depiction of the nuclear family and its fragile nature when threatened by alcoholism, infidelity and neglect. A little bit of take-it or leave-it, but overall a decent film that could've been much stronger.
½ June 16, 2013
Slow and pretentious, yet with a powerful dramatic story, enough to overcome the flawed narration.
½ April 23, 2013
Quiet, beautiful, devastating. This movie will stay with you.
March 30, 2013
This movie is sad and disturbing but it so beautifully filmed and so touching to so many that it strikes to the heart.
Olivia Harris's performance as a first time actress is amazing and her song is so beautiful at the end. The other children are fantastic and professional. Of course John and Molly do their parts with grace and interest.
½ March 30, 2013
A sensitive and harrowing portrayal of 60s suburban life, the Dyer sisters' production focuses on the disconnect between alcoholic parents and their knowing, struggling kids. Terrific direction of a top-notch cast, The Playroom scores on many levels to recall the era and its mores. See it and be transported to a home full of secrets in which the children must take on the roles of adults in order to survive--a place familiar to many growing up in that time.
March 23, 2013
Enjoyed this film both times I saw it...hope everyone gets to see it at least once!
March 20, 2013
Absolutely fantastic...Molly Parker is brilliant...John Hawkes is, as always great...kudos to Julia Dyer for this incredible film. Bravos to all the kids!
March 19, 2013
Very well done hand made film. The story more important than film technique. Reality based glimpse into one family's condition. Some fine acting and dialogue. The lighting struck me as glaring but maybe done that way so as to shine some pain onto that opening scene post school afternoon and then the evening. Man! A story of being left to take care of those who left us.
March 18, 2013
Though the performances by John Hawkes and Molly Parker are spot on--it's really the amazing acting by the children in this movie that drew me in. Wonderful direction by Julia Dyer.
½ March 17, 2013
Beautifully directed. Heart-breaking performances. Perfectly captures the 70's and the conflicts of personal/sexual/familial "freedom".
March 17, 2013
Brilliantly cast, brought me back in time to a stark reality, with humor and pathos.
March 17, 2013
Wonderful film. Great casting, directing, and writing.
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