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Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman star in this gripping thriller from Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), which follows an investigation into the shocking disappearance of two young girls — and the act of vigilantism that could either accelerate or derail the wheels of justice.
With an Oscar nomination for Incendies
and an unbroken list of strong independent
features behind him, Montreal's
Denis Villeneuve (whose Enemy is
also at the Festival) was clearly ready for
bigger things. And yet it's still a surprise
to experience Prisoners. Taut, controlled,
precise and high-impact, this is Hollywood
filmmaking at its best. Working with a
dream cast led by Hugh Jackman and Jake
Gyllenhaal, Villeneuve proves himself the
equal of today's best studio directors.
On an overcast Thanksgiving in suburban
Pennsylvania, two neighbouring
families gather for dinner. Food, drink,
games, and stories are shared. But as the
party begins to wind down, the youngest
daughters from each household are
nowhere to be found. Panic sets in as
the parents remember the mysterious
Winnebago that was parked on their street
earlier in the day. What has happened to
Gyllenhaal plays the lead detective
investigating the disappearance. Although
his work soon reveals a suspect in the form
of a young misfit (Paul Dano), a solid case
proves elusive. He begins the hard slog to
collect evidence, but his calm determination
soon proves too much for the girls' parents,
who endure each passing hour
with increasing panic. It's not long before
one girl's father (Hugh Jackman) decides to
take both the hunt and the punishment into
his own hands.
With a plot that advances through
surprise and logic, Prisoners consistently
engages both the mind and gut. In
addition to Jackman and Gyllenhaal, supporting
actors Terrence Howard, Viola
Davis, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo turn
in beautifully calibrated performances.
And the combination of Villeneuve's
feel for dramatic rhythm and Roger A.
Deakins's coolly perfect images produces
a potent result. Prisoners has its disturbing
moments, but this is a smart, polished
thriller that knows just how and when to
ratchet up the tension.
- Denis Villeneuve
- Denis Villeneuve was born near Trois-
Rivières, Quebec, and studied film at
l'Université du Québec à Montréal.
His feature Polytechnique (09)
received nine Genie Awards, including
best picture and best director,
while his other acclaimed features
Un 32 août sur terre (98), Maelström
(00), and Incendies (10) all screened
at the Festival. Prisoners (13) and
Enemy (13) are his latest films.