The cast of Prisoners is astounding from the word go. To just read the cast list is to kind of start hyperventilating about how AWESOME this movie is going to be. Once you get into the film, you realize that the oppressive atmosphere of the trailer is an accurate representation of the film’s tone. So, these actors are trapped in this tale of child kidnapping, murder and pedophilia and the job is to go as raw as they can as hard as they can for as long as they can. Hugh Jackman comes ready to play and his dour, intimidating turn as the angry, brutal father is wonderful. Jake Gyllenhaal gives his best performance to date as the emotionally repressed, strangely intense Detective Loki. Others have less screen time, but utterly disappear into their roles. Paul Dano inhabits his developmentally disabled character so deeply that I actually forgot who was playing the character for a stretch of the movie; Melissa Leo is totally unrecognizable as the troubled aunt of Dano’s character. Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis fill out the families of the missing girls; none of them have enough screen time, but they’re wonderful whenever they’re on screen. And let’s throw some praise to David Dastmalchian; his part is quite small, but he’s wonderfully creepy and disturbing. Unintimidated by all the big names at the top of the cast list, he brings his a-game to what could have easily been a stereotypical performance. It’s a meticulously, beautifully performed film; what does that mean? Yup: no Oscar nominations for this cast.
Next time, it’s a film that’s now, unbelievably, twenty years old. Revisiting it again on the big screen this year was a total pleasure and the amazing cast is a big reason why. Join me for that 1994 classic next time.