On the way home from skating practice, Matthew Lane (Ryan Reynolds) and his 9 year old daughter Cass (Peyton Kennedy) stop for at a roadside diner for a treat. Theirs is the only vehicle there. When moments after going inside the shop Matthew returns to the car, the backseat where Cass was playing is empty; she's gone - disappeared. The search for Cass loses intensity after eight years, but neither Matthew, his wife Tina (Mireille Enos) nor Detective Nicole Dunlop (Rosario Dawson) have given up, nor has cynical detective Jeff Cornwall (Scott Speedman). And strange clues appear that suggest Cass, now 17 (Alexia Fast), is still alive.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Kidnap story or experimental drama about the oddness of humanity - or both? Atom Egoyan's complex and challenging film hit the 2014 Cannes film festival like so much slush in spring; nobody quite knew what to do with it, and some critics thought it shouldn't even be there. That's what comes from defying genre expectations.
Egoyan was born in Egypt to Armenian parents (both artists with paint) and raised in Western Canada. I mention this to put the filmmaker in some cultural context. It helps to navigate the film's various layers against that backdrop. My two favourite Egoyan films are The Sweet Hereafter (1997) and Where the Truth Lies (2005), both wonderfully complex, intelligent and emotionally satisfying films.
The filmmaking sensibilities are again in evidence with The Captive, a non-linear work that teases us by unexpected shifts and an unexpected protagonist, whose character may have confused some critics enough to feel let down by this latest Egoyan film.
But if you are prepared to accept that real life is not predictable, much less real people, The Captive will engage and stimulate you. But you will need to pay attention.
Ryan Reynolds is great as is Mireille Enos, but it's Rosario Dawson who packs the acting punch, along with Kevin Durand as the creepy Mika, a bizarre and strikingly unique characterization that propels much of the film's dramatic tension.
Review by Louise Keller:
Early in the film we are introduced to a member of the team that investigates missing children, abducted by a pornographic ring. He has vision pattern recognition skills: from a jigsaw scattered into hundreds of pieces on the desk, he can deduct the key elements. The key elements of Atom Egoyan's unusual and often obtuse thriller are not as easy to put together in a tangible form. The film is a fragmented essay of ideas haphazardly put together and whose resolution is a little too tidy. Nonetheless, there are many interesting elements to the film, including its portrayal of the perpetrator's perspective. It's a case of the individual parts being more successful than the whole.
Mychael Danna's impenetrable music impacts in the opening scenes, accompanied by equally opaque images of the wintry snowy landscape, which plays a big role in itself. A woman sings opera on a television screen; a man paces up and down; a girl plays electric keyboard and sings; a woman cleans a bedroom... all the while someone is watching... watching. An ice rink and ice-skating; a man picks up a hitchhiker in the middle of the snow.... These are some of the imagery fragments that are thrown before us, like key ingredients for a cocktail shaker, ready to be shaken before consumption.
Intriguing yet bewildering, the fragments that Egoyan delivers are often obtuse, with characters appearing in contexts for which there is no justification. Without question, it is an interesting approach and as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together, there is some sense of satisfaction. There are however, many unanswered questions and too many coincidences to swallow.
The cast does a fine job: Ryan Reynolds as the distraught father whose child is lost on his watch, Mireille Enos as the mother who cannot come to terms with her loss, Rosario Dawson as the detective whose job is not to look away, Scott Speedman as the former homicide officer with an aggressive streak and Kevin Durand as the creepy abductor into whose lair we enter. The fact that Egoyan takes his audience into the world of the child pornography ring is fascinating in itself and only marred by the incongruity of some of the events.
Beyond the ludicrous nature of the plot, the resolution is also problematic. But there are many engrossing moments including the kidnapping at the black-tie ball and a thrilling car chase in the snow, which provides some of the film's tensest moments. While the film may not work in its entirety, rest assured there are enough elements to warrant seeing it.
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CAPTIVE, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast, Peyton Kennedy, Bruce Greenwood, Brendan Gall, Aaron Poole
PRODUCER: Atom Egoyan, Stephen Traynor, Simone Urdl, Jennifer Weiss
DIRECTOR: Atom Egoyan
SCRIPT: Atom Egoyan, David Fraser
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Sarossy
EDITOR: Susan Shipton
MUSIC: Mychael Danna
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Phillip Barker
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 2014