Exhausted and bruised – my reactions to Prisoners
It’s Thanksgiving Day and two families have come together to celebrate it with food, wine, singing and storytelling. Two young girls, one from each family, leave the party to quickly run over to the other house to get something. But they never come back and the families start searching for them, panic rising with every minute.
This is the beginning of Prisoners, a crime drama on the theme of child abduction and what you’re ready to do as a parent in order to get back your kid. This turns out to be a lot. One of the fathers gets into a state of mind that isn’t all that far away from what Ryan Gosling did in Drive.
Needless to say this is uncomfortable to watch and squishies should be warned: this might be too much for you (I had to cover my eyes a few times.) But it’s also very suspenseful and engaging. My attention didn’t drop for a second. In this way it reminds me of the director Denis Villeneuve’s previous movie, Incendies. Both movies contain a great deal of violence, both movies are emotionally powerful and both movies are built up as mysteries. We get a riddle. We get an investigation and a few twists and turns along the ride. (Some may argue that they could see them coming, but I didn’t. I ever went ahead of what was presented to me). And then we get a satisfying explanation that ties it all together.
When I left the theatre I felt exhausted and a bit bruised. It’s not just because the running time is long (over 2.5 hours); it’s also that there’s so much to take in as a viewer during those hours. I couldn’t have been more tired if I had been binge watching an entire season of a TV series.
Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are both excellent as the worried father respectively the main police investigator. They’re so much one with their character that you forget that they are actors. The setting is also very realistic and feels familiar with the suburban environment, the pine forest and the winter weather: typical Scandinavian.
As I watched Hugh Jackman’s character crossing line after line in order to get his daughter back, I couldn’t stop repeating in my head, silently: “No, don’t go that way. Do NOT go that way. NOT. I know how you’re feeling, but it isn’t right”.
But again: who am I to judge? As much as I’m against torture and death penalty, it’s the first thing that would come to mind if someone did anything bad against my daughters. So who am I to judge?
Anyway: if you want an engaging, well-crafted mystery that will keep you mentally as well as emotionally occupied for an entire evening, Prisoners is one of the better choices right now (provided that you’ve already watched Gravity and Captain Phillips).
Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve, US 2013) My rating 4/5