Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Aaron Guzikowski
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello
Sometimes just what you need to forget a bit about the stress of everyday life: work, money, conflicts, it’s the stress that great drama can put you under. Suffering along with Prisoners, I forgot about everything else but these families’ plight and afterwards, every annoyance in my life was tiny compared to the horror of losing a child, something these people went through in fiction but thousands of others live in the real world every single day.
I left the theater physically exhausted and trembling. And that’s from a movie. I am aware that these people are acting out lines from a script, and that beyond my line of sight there’s a really talented French guy telling them what to do and how. I mean, I know it’s fiction. But sometimes it’s hard to tell.
“Harrowing” is something Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) does so well, and his cast really helps him sell it. Though I was a bit disappointed by the women – Viola Davis is underused (even if that’s not really her fault), Melissa Leo is miscast and Maria Bello just wasn’t very good – the men exhibit some of the best acting work of the year and, in the case of Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, their respective careers. This film put me through hell for 2 and a half hours (it could use a little trimming), but with Oscar-caliber acting and top-notch work from one of the finest directors in the business, Prisoners is one of the best movies of 2013 and one that will surely be a part of my year-end top ten.