Brie Larson showed her nuanced, gritty side when she played a halfway house supervisor who contemplated an abortion in 2013’s Short Term 12, but in A24’s recent drama Roomshe takes the embodiment of a scarred woman to another realm. A24 started the great buzz for Room at Telluride before taking it to the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week. To date, off of 19 reviews, Room currently has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. Women at last Sunday’s TIFF member-only screening were leaving the theater in tears. Those tears resonated as a slew of festival goers named Room the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 40th annual TIFF today, a kudo which has a history of being an Oscar bellwether.

Room tells the story about a young twentysomething woman, Ma (Larson) and her five-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who has never seen the outside world, except through the skylight in his room. They live in dilapidated room, where they are visited occasionally by a dominating guy referred to as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). What’s going on? Is it a dystopian future? Has the world gone to shambles outside? Why won’t Old Nick let them out? Push comes to shove, and the opportunity arises for Jack to escape. Before writing the novel that Room is based on, writer Emma Donoghue hammered out the screenplay loosely inspired by the 2008 Austrian Elizabeth Fritzl case which entailed a woman being held in captivity for 24 years in a basement by her demented father. During that time, Fritzl was abused by him, resulting in the birth of seven children. Directors circled after the book was published, but it was Irish director Lenny Abrahamson who won Donoghue over with a personal note, detailing how he would make the movie. A24 opens Room on October 16. Here Larson expounds on the film and her character.