Monday, 30 September 2013

DISAPPEARING ACT: Emotional complexity, haunting mystery give Prisoners its twisty appeal

LOST AND FOUND: Jackman (right) and Gyllenhaal in a scene from Prisoners.

In Prisoners, Hugh Jackman delivers the most emotionally riveting performance of his career (not even his Oscar-nominated turn in last year's Les Miserables measures up) as an anguished father desperate to reunite with is young daughter, who along with a friend vanished without a trace.

When the prime suspect in the girls' disappearance declines to divulge details of their whereabouts, a situation frustratingly compounded by a tardy investigating team (led by Jake Gyllenhaal's Detective Loki) dragging their feet, Keller decides to take matters into his own hands. And that's when things take a devastating turn giving rise to life-altering consequences. 

Above all else, it becomes clear, Prisoners (powerfully acted and skilfully directed by Denis Villeneuve) raises complicated moral questions, chief among them, just how far would you go, as a parent/guardian to protect your child? 

Clocking in at 146 minutes, the film is a tad overlong, but with its blend of intricate plotting, engaging storytelling, mystery and sense of foreboding, twists you don't see coming, and rock-solid performances, Prisoners easily ranks among the most finely wrought dramas of the year. 

Clearly Villeneuve is a director with a deft touch when it comes to pulling magnetic performances from his cast. In addition to Jackman, fine work comes from Mellisa Leo (Alex's mousy aunt, Holly), Maria Bello (Keller's pain-ravaged wife) and Viola Davis and Terrence Howard (the parents of the other missing girl) completing the first-rate cast.

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