Saturday, November 17, 2007
Captivity is a low-octane thriller/exploitation/horror movie. Our heroine, played by Elisha Cuthbert is kidnapped, held captive and subjected to a variety of styles of torture.
The film is well acted and firmly plotted. It also has pretentions (according to the DVD commentary) of rising above its genre with themes of freedom vs captivity (in a broad sense), our media perception versus reality, love arising as a bond in a crisis, and other philosophical issues. These ideas are, in fact, in the script and the story, but they are so overwhelmed by the conventional genre plot points that in fact they are barely noticable. They contribute to the integrity of the plotting and scripting, but they are not important enough to qualify as original or significant.
The movie is filmed with style, directed by Roland Joffé (a director with Oscar nominations and awards both in Cannes & the Razzies), though it is quite dark and murky (as I guess it should be). But the climactic action sequences, strangely, are shot to be so brief and sudden that I had to watch those moments in slow motion two and three times to figure out what happened. (That is a luxury not available to theatergoers!) In a movie house, key parts of the film must have been essentially incomprehensible.
For a film about sadism and bondage and sexually motivated captivity, with a beautiful actress, there is a disappointing lack of nudity -- only one fuzzy long shot that could be a body double or even an animated drawing. There is a certain dishonesty and lack of follow-through on not realizing the point of the genre.
The acting by Elisha Cuthbert and Daniel Gillies is excellent. Daniel has a nice way of holding conflicting ideas, looking innocent, attractive, and evil at the same time; and his portrayal is convincing. (His character's name is Gary Dexter. There's no telling whether there is a deliberate or just an accidental connection to the TV show Dexter and the novels about that character.) Elisha is beautiful, and an interesting enough actress to hold the screen compellingly through the whole movie, even though in much of the film she is alone on screen. It is actually virtuoso acting. She is able to convey ideas with subtle movements of her eyes, mouth and face. It is a shame: too many of her films have the same premise. (Elisha, of course, played the hapless, often kidnapped daughter in 24.) She is capable of taking demanding roles in far better films.
Elisha may have as many as four or five pictures coming out in the next year. I hope some are good enough to realize her potential!