The L-Shaped Room (1962)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Time has inevitably dulled the impact of The L-Shaped Room, a feature considered shocking and daringly frank at the time of its release. The dated aspect of the film dilutes its impact, but Room is still surprisingly engrossing. A great deal of the credit must go to Leslie Caron, for once given challenging material that allows her to prove that she was an actress of considerable talent and ability. Caron was always able to imbue her characterizations with a heated feistiness that indicated there was more to them than meets the eye; here she gets to explore more of her inner resources, ladling them out carefully as she follows her character's odyssey of indecision. With another actress, Jane's indecisiveness could be maddening, but Caron makes her wavering attitude seem totally natural. Bryan Forbes directs her with care and subtlety, and draws fine performances from Tom Bell, Brock Peters and Dame Cicely Courtneidge as well. He also makes effective use of the surroundings, creating a boarding house that is gothically oppressive. While the dialogue occasionally rings false, there is still a great deal of wit and humor, and it does a marvelous job of creating a well-defined, closed-in community. If the film lags, it still paints a believable portrait which captures the alienation and bleakness of many of Britain's inhabitants at this specific place and time.