Sunday, October 13, 2013

Prisoners (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 153 minutes
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard

Prisoners will open in Australia on the 17th October 2013 and is distributed by Roadshow Films. Now showing in the UK and USA.

What would you do if the thing you love more than life itself went missing without a trace?

While Prisoners is a story about the search for two young girls who have gone missing in extremely suspicious circumstances, it delves deep into the psychological states of those who are most affected by the situation. As well as being suspenseful, confronting, intriguing and giving way to some wonderful performances, Prisoners leaves you pondering who you would be in this film and how you would react if you were faced with the same situation.

On Thanksgiving, two little girls go missing and the only clue the police have is the suspicious RV which the two girls were playing on during the day. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) tracks down the suspected RV, it's driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is ruled out as a suspect due to his mental capacities. However, one of the girls fathers, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) does not believe for a moment that Jones does not have a role in his daughter's disappearance and takes matters into his own hands.

Prisoners is a wonderful piece of work. The screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski is near flawless, as it is never for one moment dull and it is a very clever thriller. The connections made throughout the film and the twists and turns are all well done. It is great to see a thriller which is not always predictable and has several layers to reveal. However, the subject matter and violent images in the film may be a little too much for some people to completely enjoy the film. It can be quite confronting and disturbing in its delivery, particularly in the scenes with Keller and Alex and towards the end of the film.

As Prisoners deals with child abduction, this will not be an easy watch for many parents. It is impossible to watch this as a parent and not be moved as you start to see yourself as one of the four parents who are dealing with the disappearance of their daughter. Whilst you feel you are forced into seeing the wrong that Hugh Jackman's Keller Dover is doing, you are also faced with the question of what would you do if you were in his position. What would you do if you felt that the police were not doing their job and that they do not believe what you have found out? Prisoners does well in encouraging you to contemplate these questions. Also, putting aside the information which Keller Dover is aware of, how would you handle the situation if it was you in the parents place? The four parents of the two girls all demonstrate different behaviours in their grief. While Keller is being proactive and trying to find his daughter himself, his wife, Grace (played by Maria Bello) is consumed by her grief. She cannot perform daily tasks as all she can do is just sleep and wait for her daughter to come home. The other mother and father pair, played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis' are not as extreme in their emotions (that we see). Franklin Birch (Howard) is in a state of confusion as to the situation and although he is clearly distressed, he is at a lost as to what he should do. His wife, Nancy (Davis), seems like the strongest of the parents. She does show her vulnerability at times, but believes in doing the right thing. All four of these characters are dealing with something so tragic in a different way to each other. It is a great thing to be able to delve so much into character and get people to try and put themselves in their shoes whilst maintaining the suspense and intrigue of the story.

The cinematography works wonders for the film. The decision for the majority of the film to take place during the pouring rain adds to the eerie and sinister feel of the film. The photography in the rain is not particularly polished, but this works as it makes you feel as though you are really there with the characters.

All performances in Prisoners need to be as perfect as they can be in order for the film to really have an emotional impact on the audience. With perfect casting, this has all been made possible. Hugh Jackman gives a performance unlike any other he has ever done. He is completely terrifying in his madness, but is also heartbreaking as the father who has lost the apple of his eye. His first scene with Gyllenhaal is incredible in the way he portrays the man who is trying his hardest to fight back tears and stay strong for his wife while trying to get across the importance of his words to the detective.

Maria Bello is also heartbreaking in portraying a broken woman. She falls apart bit by bit throughout the film and is completely convincing as the grieving mother. Jake Gyllenhaal is also fantastic. His Detective Loki doesn't say much about his private life, but from what he does say and do, you can see how much this case is effecting him and there is something deep and dark that has happened to him in his past. Terrence Howard and Viola Davis also do well in their roles, as do Melissa Leo and Paul Dano.

Prisoners is one of the best thrillers which deal with family to be released in years. It's psychological edge makes it disturbing yet a wonderful piece of cinema.

8.5/10


You may have also seen Hugh Jackman in....
The Wolverine as Logan/Wolverine
Les Miserables as Jean Valjean

You may have also seen Jake Gyllenhaal in.....
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as Dastan
Source Code as Colter Stevens

You may have also seen Viola Davis in.....
The Help as Aibileen

You may have also seen Melissa Leo in....
The Fighter as Alice Ward

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