A horrifying yet enthralling mystery surrounds Denis Villeneuve's 2013 production 'Prisoners.'The film employs some stunning filmmaking techniques as well as a gripping storyline and splendid performances.
A cinematic masterpiece
The mystery itself is captivating from the start. The high tension kidnapping thriller begins with us being introduced to two families: the Dovers and the Birches. They get together to celebrate thanksgiving only to be struck with tragedy when they realise that the youngest daughters of both families go missing.
Enter Detective Loki who has a record of never letting a case go unsolved. But would he finally meet his match with the case of the kidnappings of the two young girls? Only circumstances and time would tell. The biggest hurdle which seems to stand in his way in proceeding with investigations seems to be Anna Dover's father, Keller, who wants to take the law into his own hands when days go by with no news about his daughter.
Pulling off a film of this nature successfully is a rare feat. That is exactly why Villeneuve should be commended for his effort. Scriptwriter Aaron Guzikowski too has done an excellent job in inserting some thrilling twists and turns into the plot. Not only is his effort suspenseful but it had allowed Villeneuve to make a cinematic masterpiece of the tale.
The story follows both Keller and Loki on their separate missions yet it is the ultimate goal of finding the girls safe and sound which unites them. The film glides back and forth between the two with ease. The scenes shift at a moderate pace and are littered with a variety of slow, creepy tracking shots which gives you Goosebumps.
Kudos to Villeneuve for selecting a stellar cast for his production, Hugh Jackman may be the biggest name on the cast but it is amazing how Jake Gyllenhaal takes the spotlight as he manages to deliver a blistering performance as Detective Loki. Both actors churn out some powerhouse performances to anchor the film.
They work on the audience's emotions and succeed in making them care about the two missing girls as much as the characters do.
Keller and Loki are set against one another yet the audience ends up liking and sympathising with them both. From the moment he is introduced to us having dinner at a Chinese restaurant Loki captivates us with his energy and charisma. Yet halfway through into 'Prisoners' you realise that he is nursing his own daemons. Similarly it is not difficult for us to feel sorry for Jackman's grieving father yet at times these emotions are shattered when he shows bolts of blinding rage and brutality while harassing an alleged suspect who happen to have his RV parked on the location that the girls went missing. This conflict of emotions is confusing at times and makes us questions if he is also the film's true villain.
'Prisoners' also deals with several themes: the morality of what you would do to protect your loved ones, religion and the boundaries of torture. Such elements make it an adult only content. Though the theme is similar to the Angelina Jolie starrer 'Changeling,'the story flows in an entirely different direction and setting.
No doubt 'Prisoners' is of Oscar material. Smartly structured, hard hitting and deep thinking it is an unforgiving but emotionally rewarding experience.
Ruwini Jayawardana - Daily News