Thursday, 5 December 2013

Prisoners (2013)

It seems like most things* that Hugh Jackman touches these days turns to gold (The Fountain, Les Miserables) . Now, Prisoners may be that little bit of gold atop the memorial  where your sense of happiness used to live, but it's gold nonetheless.

Prisoners is a crime mystery thriller following the abduction of two little girls. Going in knowing the premise of the film makes the opening that much harder tow watch. It's Thanksgiving and two families are celebrating together. Awful festive jumpers are out, someone's playing the trumpet badly but endearingly and the kids are playing outside. Then they're not. That's it. You don't see them disappear and it makes it feel all the more real, because to the families this sort of terrible thing happens to, that's how it feels. No dramatic chase, no breakneck soundtrack, just a hollow realisation that they're gone.

Jackman plays opposite Jake Gyllenhaal as they both try to solve the case. Jackman as the father of one of the girls who becomes increasingly frustrated with the police's efforts as time goes on and Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki leading the investigation. Together they raise one of the films main questions: how doe s man react? Does he follow his gut and emotion and take justice into his own hands, or does he try to act rational, logical and objective? Both are valid but open for criticism and these two bring a lot of credibility to either side.

Whichever side you come down on, it's one hell of a gruelling ride. Prisoners is two and a half hours long but it feels like it goes on for days. It'll take your heart and break it six ways from Sunday. There's a genuine sense of realism here that makes it all the more difficult to watch. I'm not a father, and I don't even have any young children in my life at all, but this just pulls on some instinct level fears that are hardwired into all of us; Prisoners might be a bit too much for the parents of young kids.

There are a few things that detract a little from the experience. Some things play out a little too much like the crime mystery template. There's one specific thing you'll see in the first act that is framed and lit perfectly then immediately deemed irrelevant. "I wonder if that will become important later on?" asked nobody in the audience with a shred of honesty.

Prisoners isn't the sort of thing you'll see on TV on a Sunday afternoon and watch on a whim in a few years time. You need to be able to sit down and say "Yes, I do want to subject myself to something beautifully made that'll smack my emotions around the room a bit for over two hours".

*(except X-Men. X-Men sucks)

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