Thursday, October 31, 2013
Denis Villeneuve is fast becoming one of my favorite directors that no one has ever heard of. His Incendies from 2010 was one of the best films I saw in 2011, and would probably have been on the top of my Top 10 list, if I had compiled a list that year. Incendies is an independent French-language film set in various foreign countries made under Canadian auspices. Villeneuve is back with a much bigger studio film called Prisoners which has been getting quite a buzz for its large, excessively talented cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terence Howard, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano and Maria Bello.
The film has a very strong 88% rating from the audience on rottentomatoes.com and has made nearly $60 million since it was released on September 20. It is a very intense film, with a story that is centered around the disappearance of two pre-teen little girls and the impact this event has on two families, headed by Jackman and Bello and Howard and Davis. Gyllenhaal has the largest role in the film, as the police detective whose job it is to try and find the person responsible for the despicable act of kidnapping two kids, after Thanksgiving dinner no less. Dano has the unforgiving role of playing the prime suspect whose vehicle (a decrepit white RV) had been seeing hanging around the neighborhood the day the girls disappeared. Leo plays Dano's adopted mom.
Unsurprisingly, the plot revolves around Jackman's role as Keller Dover, the devastated, determined and wrong-headed father of one of the kidnaped girls. He is a can-do kind of guy and he is unable to wait for the police, to solve the mystery, eventually taking extraordinary steps to try and break open the case that present charged ethical situations directly to the audience. The script keeps the audience guessing and I bet you will be surprised but even exceeds that when the true culprit is revealed at the end.
Prisoners is more suspenseful than Incendies and even exceeds that excellent film in the emotional wallop it delivers to the audience; it's complicated enough that multiple viewings would not be amiss to catch the subtle clues and twists embedded within the stellar screenplay.
In a very strong cast, Jackman and Gyllenhaal stand out, but really the entire film works as a string ensemble piece, perfectly cast.
Director: Denis Villeneuve.
Running Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout.
Release Date: September 20, 2013.
Viewing Date: October 12, 2013.
Overall Grade: A/A+ (4.083/4.0).