Monday, 2 December 2013


Canadian director and screenwriter Denis Villeneuve’s first English language film Prisoners (2013) asks the question that has been put to audiences in various movies including Gone Baby Gone (2007) and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003). When is a crime not a crime, is it when you kidnap and torture or kill a suspected paedophile?
Happier times for the Dover family.
In a suburban street in Pennsylvania there’s a sinister RV parked. The Dover and Birch families have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. When six year old Anna Dover and Joy Birch go missing along with the RV, a loner called Alex Jones (Paul Dano an actor that really does a believable ‘weird’) the driver of the vehicle is suspected of abducting them.  Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests Jones but has to let him go for lack of evidence.  Ann’s father Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) believes that the mentally defective Jones knows were the two girls are hidden and abducts and imprisoning him in a deserted block of apartments where he carry’s out a violent interrogation with the help of Joy’s father (Terrence Howard).  

Joy and Ann.
Villeneuve’s previous film Incendies (2010) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The mystery/drama film follows the journey of twin brother and sister as they attempt to unravel the mystery of their mother’s life. This was an extremely powerful film with a most intriguing and complex narrative, almost like a detective story, a thriller or a Greek tragedy that revealed it’s hidden secrets gradually. This latest film is equally powerful and deals with another very emotive subject, the abduction of young children. Cinematographer Roger Deakins highlights the bleak nature of the films subject matter and its settings, evoking a mood of dread that never seems to let up. It stars a great ensemble cast with a stand out performances from Gyllenhaal as the twitchy buttoned up police officer pitting him self against the hot headed carpenter Dover. The cast also includes Viola Davis and Maria Bello as the distraught mothers and Melissa Leo as Holly Jones. Mr Villeneuve is beginning to build quite a reputation for strong adult cinema.

The suspect is questioned. 

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