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Prisoners

10 Jan

Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is really good at his job. He’s a homicide detective and he’s solved every case that’s come his way. He’s focussed and methodical, leaving no stone unturned. One Thanksgiving, two families in town – the Birches and the Dovers – are enjoying their holiday weekend together when their two young girls, Anna Dover (by Erin Gerasimovich) and her best friend Joy Birch (by Kyla Drew Simmons) go missing. Their parents are distraught. Anna’s father, Keller (by Hugh Jackman) tries hard to keep her mother Grace (by Maria Bello) calm, at the same time his utter despair at the disappearance of his daughter eats away at him. Joy’s parents, Franklin (by Terrence Howard) and Nancy (by Viola Davis), pray for the safe return of their child. The police seem to be taking a long time to solve the case and as time ticks by the likelihood that the girls will be found alive gets slimmer. When Anna’s brother, Ralph (by Dylan Minnette) tells the Police about an RV he saw nearby, their investigation leads them to Alex Jones (by Paul Dano) – an intellectually underdeveloped guy who drives the van, which becomes central to the case. In custody, Alex doesn’t give much information, so he’s released and Keller gets more desperate. At home, Alex’s aunt and carer, Holly (by Melissa Leo) tries to keep Alex calm and the police at bay.  To try to speed things along, Keller takes matters into his own hands and Loki struggles to fit the pieces together. Will this be the case that finally eludes him? How does he keep Keller and the families satisfied that everything’s being done, when they are desperate to have their girls home? … and where are those little girls? …

This movie is long, but very good. The mood is captured well with a darkness throughout the production, which creates a grainy sense for this middle America place that could be anywhere. That’s part of its appeal – it could just as easily be happening in my town. The tension is built very well indeed. Loki’s investigation is detailed and his intuition takes him down a meandering path. But the drama itself doesn’t wander – it’s very good indeed. The performances of both Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman are excellent. They are measured and very compelling – even though Loki’s manner is understated, he’s got a keen eye and a fast intellect, so you wouldn’t underestimate his smart work. Hugh Jackman’s performance is multi-faceted. He has a tenderness, but a very fiery edge which means he can be violent when he’s desperate. He does this very well indeed – it’s frightening. The support roles by Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano and Melissa Leo are excellent also. I’m surprised and disappointed that the movie doesn’t feature in the 2014 Academy Award (Oscar) nominations.  It’s very very good.

Made in 2013. Directed by Denis Villeneuve.

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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Movies

 

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