Canadian born director Denis Villeneuve shows a deep interest in the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of violence in the film “Prisoners;” a narrative of two families who attempt to find their daughters who have gone missing.
The film takes place in small-town Pennsylvania complete with moods of presumed safe residential suburban neighborhoods, family-first driven values, and a God-fearing America.
The movie creates its confident tone, affirming small-town America from the opening scene– a shot of a father and son hunting deer. The son has the barrel aimed at a doe while the father recites The Lord’s Prayer. Upon completion of the prayer, the son shoots the deer and the father expresses his pride.
The father in the scene, Keller Dover, a blue-collar self-employed construction worker, played by Hugh Jackman, deploys his stance on life from the very beginning: “Always be ready.” Everything from his apocalypse-ready stocked basement to his disregard for institutionalized America during times of crisis speaks to its evidence.
The plot truly begins to roll when Dover’s family visits Franklin Birch’s family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Franklin Birch, played by Terrence Howard, is a neighborhood friend of the Dovers, more so affirming the close neighborhood ties of small-town America.
Following the dinner, the two young girls of the family, go missing with only an inconclusive hint as to their whereabouts: they had been playing next to an RV parked in the street. Music on inside the RV suggested someone was watching.
From this point, the film hurls itself into a two and a half hour journey of the family members quest to find their daughters with the aide of Detective Loki, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Gut-wrenching emotions convey themselves throughout the scenes as the toll of losing family members plays on the characters involved.
For the second time in the movie, Dover portrays a paramount theme in the movie by reciting The Lord’s Prayer while alone with a person that he’s holding illegally for supposed responsibility of his daughter’s disappearance.
Only this time, he comes to the phrase, “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and stumbles over his words. He cannot say, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Hugh Jackman plays the part of a person needing to question their beliefs perfectly.
-Chris Yoder, Staff Writer
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