Prisoners, dir. Denis Villeneuve, wr. Aaron Guzikowski, st. Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano
This is more like it - a superb, expansive, tremendously well executed and performed thriller from Canadian director Villeneuve who brought us the formidable Incendies back in 2010. Jackman, on stripped-back, raw and intense form, plays Keller Dover, a family man who along with their neighbours, discovers his little girl has been abducted from their sleepy blue-collar town. Initial suspicions lie with Dano's Alex Jones, a developmentally disabled local man who lives with his aunt Holly (Leo), but Det. Loki (Gyllenhaal) insists on methodically going through the evidence, even though Keller believes in Jones being the perpetrator. Villeneuve's film is a masterful exercise in drawn out suspense, and explores what anger and fury men are capable of when convinced of another's guilt. There is no urgency to move things along, and indeed Villeneuve succeeds in wringing every last drop of potential Hanekian menace from every cold and barren Wintry location. There are faint echoes too of Fincher's Zodiac, especially through Jóhann Jóhannsson's minimalist score, and importantly, there's a resolution that raises more uncomfortable questions about trust and the evil that exists within small town communities than it answers. Gyllenhaal is on fine form as a man frustrated by the inhibiting confines of due process, but this is Jackman's show. A terrifyingly restrained exhibition that illustrates the abyssal depths of grief and suffering, this is a fragile, human performance. Bullets may bounce of the exoskeleton of his most famous portrayal, but here we see a man near destroyed by the loss of his child, in all its unflinching, persuasive detail.