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Prisoners (Movie Review)


Disclaimer: This review contains very minor spoilers and details in nothing more than what can be seen in the trailer for the movie.

Can you believe that September is already over? Time flies. I'm back at university now, and so I will use that as my excuse for the appallingly low number of posts that have been up on the site recently, although seriously, I have been busy with settling back in and stuff. Anyhow, I saw a movie yesterday (the day it was released) with two friends from my flat. That movie was Prisoners.
Prisoners is a thriller movie that I really wanted to see because when I went to see Elysium (another great film released this year) the trailer shown before the movie really caught my attention. The trailer depicted two families (the Dovers and the Birches) meeting for thanksgiving, and when the two daughters from each family ask if they can go look for something in the Dover house down the road, they go missing. A suspect is found, a young man called Alex Jones (Paul Dano). Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case to investigate but the police cannot find any evidence against Alex so he is released. Father Keller Dover isn't happy with the way this turned out, and convinced that Alex knows what really happened to the two daughters, he kidnaps Alex and begins to use force as a means of getting the information he needs. That is where the trailer ends and bloody hell was I intrigued. I had to know what happened next. I wanted to know the identity of the real kidnapper. But that is what makes Prisoners so brilliant, it had me guessing right until the very end.



Another thing that hooked me in was the cast. Jake Gyllenhaal is always an actor I look out for, as well as Hugh Jackman, and the actor that piqued my interest the most was Paul Dano, who I had previously seen in the lovey-dovey Ruby Sparks (also a great movie!). It was interesting to see him play a different character from what I had seen previously in that movie. None of these actors disappointed and although Paul Dano's character didn't say so much (his character has the mind of a 10-year-old who rarely speaks) I still think he pulled off his role very well. Each member of Prisoner's cast breathe life into their characters, making them seem realistic and believable, all the way down to minor details such as body language and the way they speak. What was also believable was the way certain characters reacted to certain situations throughout the movie, especially Hugh Jackman's character, who you would totally expect to take the law into his own hands. If this movie was based on a real story, I wouldn't be surprised, at some points I felt like I was watching real people living through these events.
The movie had a very dingy atmosphere throughout, based during winter, a perfect setting for a movie with events so gloomy. The music (composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson) accompanied such a setting particularly well, making sure that you remained on the edge of your seat and did not feel at ease for a second. The soundtrack was haunting, emotional and suspenseful, which worked fantastically with the plot which held a surprise round every corner. You can hear some previews of the music below.



Speaking of the plot, this is where the movie blew my mind. If you want to enjoy this movie to its full potential, don't look at the comments section of YouTube videos about it, and ignore friends who are talking about it in your presence, because spoilers will ruin what made this film so absolutely awesome for me, and definitely you too. Anyway, I kind of knew that the film would have such a plot when I saw the trailer. I loved the ambiguity of what I saw in the trailer. The idea that the kidnapper of the two little girls could be anybody. Throughout the film, a trail of bread crumbs is laid out for you, but it was only at the end that everything came together and made sense. The movie introduces certain plot devices throughout, as well as new characters, but every single one had some sort of relevance to the final outcome of the movie, even more so than you'd expect until the very end.


Something to mention is that the movie is very long, so if you want to watch it properly and not miss anything important, make sure you take a leak before you go into the cinema. Casual movie goers might find the length of the movie a little bit intimidating and I can understand that, the movie does provide you with a lot to take in, but I found it fairly easy to understand, despite not usually watching movies of this sort. Also worth mentioning, is that the violence (mostly implied) in the movie at some points is quite shocking, especially the torture (well, he gets punched a lot) of Alex (Paul Dano), who is basically helpless... at that point there was a girl in the row behind me who was crying, and I can understand why, I was quite shocked by it also, but this all goes back to how incredibly real the movie felt.


In conclusion, I found Prisoners to be a thrilling, mind bending experience and writing about it in this review is only increasing my appreciation of it further. Me and my two friends both enjoyed it for similar reasons, and what was interesting was that all three of us had different ideas on who the kidnapper was. Who will you think it is? Well you'll just have to go see it and find out!

 
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