How do you write about a film that is a puzzle within a maze in a mysterious drama?
You start where the movie starts. There are two families who live on the same street who come together to celebrate Thanksgiving When the youngest daughter of each family disappears ALL of their lives begin to spiral out of control. The wonderful cast that makes up Prisoners includes Jake Gyllenhaal (who and I would be lying to you and myself if I didn't admit this was the main reason I wanted to see this flick). But there is so much more to this intriguing film.
The amazing Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover a carpenter and a father who teaches his son to hunt, gives his daughter a whistle to use in case of emergencies and has a basement full of canned food just in case. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Detective Loki and is the first to get the call that the girls are missing and makes it his personal mission to find them before it is too late. As Locki goes by the book, for the most part, to question each suspect, Dover deals with one suspect, a grown man with the IQ of a 10 year old played by Paul Dano, in his own "special" way. In fact each of the characters deal with the girls disappearance in their individual way, Maria Bello who plays Jackman's wife completely shuts down and Franklin, friend and father to the other missing girl played by the superb Terrence Howard may know what his friend is up to with the suspect but keeps it to himself at least until his wife Nancy played by the wonderful Viola Davis asks. A unrecognizable Melissa Leo also stars.
Director Denis Villeneuve and Cinematographer Roger Deakins shoot each frame with such love and perfection that one feels like they are in Pennsylvania on a cold Thanksgiving week. Prisoners is a tense and suspenseful game of cat and mouse, a thriller with twists at every new turn around each corner. Screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski story will have the viewer on the edge of their seat as Hugh Jackman leaves Wolverine way way behind. If there is one thing I learned from this well made film is that you really never know who is living in your suburban neighborhood and some of them are really creepy. As hard as it was to watch, once, I will have to see Prisoners again partly for the good film that it is and partly because I know there were clues that I missed the first time.
P.S. If you are a parent with small children whom I'm sure you love you may want to skip this one or risk staying up all night in his or her room to watch as they sleep and hopefully stay safe.