Movie Review: The Captive

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Eight years after their daughter disappeared, Cassandra’s parents start finding clues about her kidnapping.

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Atom Egoyan, 2014

Stopped at a diner on the way home from skating practice one evening, nine-year-old Cassandra (Alexia Fast) disappears from the back of her father’s truck. Over the course of the next eight years, her father Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) and mother Tina (Mireille Enos) fall apart, while detectives Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) try to piece together what happened to her. Jeffrey suspects Matthew, but the audience knows from the opening moments that the culprit is the creepy Mika (Kevin Durand), who has Cassandra locked in his basement. As he starts to get cocky, clues to Cassandra’s whereabouts begin to appear: trinkets, her face in a screencap. The investigation begins to heat up again, and the race is on to find the captive Cassandra.
The Captive new poster
Much like almost all of its characters, The Captive thinks it’s a much smarter movie than it actually is. It’s ponderous, making sure you really feel the cold of its wintry Niagara location and the chill between characters. Its fractured narrative is confusing, not working in its favour, but instead confusing the audience when they’re only trying to work out what the plot actually is. There’s an element of unrealness about the story, as well. Pedophilia is something that exists; it is abhorrent enough as it stands, and making it into this kind of puzzle to solve is bizarre and unpleasant. The relationship between Cassandra and Mika is strange and not explored as fully as it should be; the girl seems to be upset but also have a kind of affection for him. Although the theme lends itself to them, explorations of strained relationships don’t seem to be this Atom Egoyan’s area of interest here; rather, he focuses on mood and ambiance.
The acting is pretty good. Ryan Reynolds is good as the guilty, grieving father with a fairly decent beard, and Mireille Enos is powerful in her sorrow, though I feel bad for her. The stressed/sad mother seems to be one of the only roles she gets to play. (Fun fact: she’s married to Cameron Frye!) Young Alexia Fast is oddly flat as the painfully underdeveloped Cassandra, whose trauma is underplayed severely, to the film’s detriment. Kevin Durand is a deeply unsettling presence as the mustachioed Mika, tall and looming but tightly wound. It’s a solid performance from a man who’s built his career on bad guys. The dependable Rosario Dawson is tough and could have used more of a character arc, but Scott Speedman is utterly pointless and more of an irritation than someone who actually contributes to the film. Nobody’s motivation for doing anything is explored very much, and only Reynolds gets to really up the ante towards the end, his Matthew finding his own strength and intelligence towards the end of the film. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as it’s made out to be; the mood is effectively tense and it’s shot well, with a few good performances. It isn’t great either, though.
The Captive on IMDb
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