Prisoners (2013) by Denis Villeneuve
Good thriller. A few things:
- A-list cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman & Maria Bello, Terrance Howard & Viola Davis, Melissa Leo & Paul Dano. Of that bunch, Gyllenhaal and Jackman’s characters are the focus of the film and the most developed, so not surprisingly those are the two performances that really stand out. Those two are pretty much constantly at odds so their scenes together are particularly tense and testosterone-charged. Two fine actors.
- Gyllenhaal did Prisoners right after shooting Enemy, another film by Villeneuve. Hence the on-set performance shorthand between actor and director, which I’m sure helped Gyllenhaal flesh out and fine tune detective Loki. I love the fact that we’re told and shown nothing of Loki’s personal life and circumstances outside the investigation — we only see him on the job. It’s really impressive how rich and complex a character Loki turns out to be, considering how little we know about him… A few key hints here and there: alone in a diner for Thanksgiving, his quiet demeanor interrupted by occasional bursts of anger and frustration, his nervous facial twitch, his buttoned-up shirt and slick hairdo, the tattoos he’s hiding.
- Paul Dano’s got the perfect face for his part — he looks particularly great when being intimidated or tortured. I don’t how he does it but he can look stoic and absolutely terrified at the same time.
- The film looks stunning and very atmospheric during all those scenes when we’re taken outside at night. Great lighting.
- I would have simplified the plot and given Melissa Leo the proper screen time her character deserves. Holy Jones is a key player in the story and in my opinion the script completely lets her down. Too bad, Leo’s invested a lot in that part (ref to this interview => HERE) but she’s not given enough room to show that on screen.