The Captive (2014)
Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. For more information please visit www.festival-cannes.com/en or follow the Cannes Film Festival on Twitter.
The first out of three Canadian features in the official selection of the Competition had its premiere on the Croisette today. Atom Egoyan, a Cannes regular who already won awards for Exotica in 1994 and The Sweet Hereafter in 1997, returns with a thriller starring Ryan Reynolds and Mireille Enos in the lead. By reading the synopsis or watching the trailer of the film, one might think that it could be similar to last-years critically acclaimed Prisoners. However, except for the abduction theme of the film, The Captive turns out to be not even remotely related to it, which is actually kind of unfortunate.
Inspired by a kidnapping case in his hometown, Egoyan depicts the story of a married couple whose 9-year old daughter Cass (Peyton Kennedy) gets abducted. The event takes place in a regular, everyday-life environment when Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) stops his truck at a pie shop at the side of the road to get dessert for dinner. Only minutes after turning his back on Cass, who is waiting in the car for the time being, he finds the backseat of his car to be empty and his daughter is nowhere to be found. The kidnapping scene itself is constructed in a great way because the camera, accompanied by a dramatic score, zooms into the center and therefore away from the crime scene. The audience is supposed to be unaware of the events that unfold off-screen, however due to the film’s non-linear narrative structure, The Captive loses most of its thriller character. The villain, Mika (Kevin Durand), as well as his then almost 18-year old victim (Alexia Fast) have already been introduced in the opening scene. This unnecessary, non-linear technique is more irritating than it is a contribution to the plot and the thriller genre.
The audience is supposed to be unaware of the events that unfold off-screen, however due to the film’s non-linear narrative structure, The Captive loses most of its thriller character.
Once the theme of the film is established, the narrative continues after a time jump of eight years. With new evidences in the case leading to an online ring involving crimes committed against children, investigations are being picked up again by the two detectives Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman). Because the reasons for the kidnapping have been addressed since the beginning and further developed through the course of the film, the investigation does not create much suspense and leads to a foreshadowing finale.
Nevertheless, the performances of Reynolds and Enos are convincing in portraying the deeply vulnerable and conflicted parents. Egoyan explores their difficult situation and their methods in coping with their loss, but sadly just scratches on the surface of many of the problematic themes. Reynolds’s participation in the project however marks a return to Independent cinema after starring in a number of unsuccessful Hollywood blockbusters. More impressive is the transformation of Kevin Durand playing the perverted kidnapper. As a character who does not look like the stereotypical villain, Durand is still able to embody an odd character with a complex relationship towards his captive.
Although The Captive pushes the boundaries of Internet surveillance and organized crimes in the world wide web, Egoyan returns to the Croisette with a disappointing thriller that is neither enthralling nor features any surprising elements twisting or motivating the storyline.
Egoyan returns to the Croisette with a mediocre thriller that is neither enthralling nor features any surprising elements twisting or motivating the storyline.