Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
The gritty, dramatic thriller about two families’ daughters going missing is garnering mass critical acclaim. So why should you see the Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal flick in theaters this weekend?
1. It Boasts Strong Performances
Prisoners gives some big-name actors the opportunity to flex their acting muscles in grittier, more complex roles than they’re used to. Hugh Jackman’s performance as a father in emotional turmoil is riveting to watch on screen; there are points in the film where you wish you could just give him a hug. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a solid performance as well as a detective who begins to realize that his assigned case is a lot more twisted than he had expected. Maria Bello and Viola Davis shine in their portrayals of mothers of missing children, and Terence Howard rounds out the cast nicely with his understated performance as a man struggling to follow his moral compass. But it’s Paul Dano’s creepy take as the prime kidnapping suspect and an unrecognizable Melissa Leo as his aunt that truly steal the show.
2. You Won’t Even Realize it’s 2 ½ Hours Long
Prisoners may have a total runtime of 153 minutes but you will never feel inclined to check your watch. The film’s suspense builds at a steady pace and then once the mystery begins to unfold, you’ll find yourself gripping your armrests and cowering in your seat. This movie may be lengthy but you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
3. It Keeps You Guessing
After seeing so many movies of a certain genre, it can be easy to feel like you’re equipped to map out a film’s entire ending before it actually happens. However, when watching Prisoners this proved to be nearly impossible. The film’s twists and turns kept me on my toes and left me unable to make a formulaic hypothesis. The movie may have a familiar premise, but the script unravels into something refreshingly unique.
4. It’s a Well-made Film
In many instances, a plot-driven film will focus less on the art of filmmaking and more on the spectacle. Prisoners encompasses both. While it is full of substance, it’s also beautifully made. Director Denis Villenueve’s background in independent filmmaking translates perfectly into his first studio film and the results are breathtaking. Artistically framed shots, tight editing, and brilliant cinematography give this big movie a creatively intimate feel.
5. It’ll Stay With You
Once the ending credits had begun to roll, I remained stunned in my seat, unable to move at first. This film is not easy to watch. It’s one part mystery-thriller and two parts emotional roller coaster. But it isn’t one of those films that recede into your movie-going memory as soon as you exit- the world of Prisoners will stay with you, and that’s what a great film should do.